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Title: Basutoland - Its Legends and Customs
Author: Martin, Minnie
Language: English
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BASUTOLAND:

ITS LEGENDS AND CUSTOMS

BY

MINNIE MARTIN

LONDON:
NICHOLS & CO.,
34 HART STREET, BLOOMSBURY, W.C,
AND
23 OXFORD STREET, W.
1903.


ROBERT STOCKWELL,
Printer,
BADEN PLACE, CROSBY ROW, BOROUGH,
LONDON, S.E.



CONTENTS.

                                                                    PAGE
CHAPTER I.

OUTLINE OF BASUTO HISTORY--LIFE OF MOSHESHUE--LETSIE--LEROTHOLI--THE
"PITSO"--PRINCIPAL CHIEFS--SCENERY--MANNER OF HERDING--NATURAL
FEATURES OF THE COUNTRY--BUSHMEN--RIVERS--WATERFALLS--"KHAPONG,"
OR UNSEEN FIRE--CLIMATE                                                1


CHAPTER II.

APPEARANCE OF BASUTO--ALBINOS--CHARACTER--NATIVE VILLAGES--HUTS--
MANNER OF BUILDING--MANNER OF LIVING--NATIVE DRESS--ORNAMENTS         21


CHAPTER III.

MANNER OF CULTIVATING THE SOIL--GRAIN--HARVEST--FOODS--DRINKS--MANNER
OF EATING--RESOURCES OF THE COUNTRY--CONDITION OF COUNTRY--IMPORTS--
HORSES--PACK OXEN--NUMBER OF WIVES--STATUS OF WOMEN--"LETSIMA"--BASUTO
WOMEN--CHILDREN--SEASONS--MANNER OF COUNTING--RELIGIOUS CUSTOMS--
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS--HEATHEN "SCHOOLS"--AMUSEMENTS                    32


CHAPTER IV.

CHIEF WARS--THEIR CAUSES AND EFFECTS--MOROSI--DISARMAMENT
ACT--DEATH OF MOLAPO--INFLUENCE OF THE MISSIONARIES--COMPENSATION--
RESIGNATION OF COL. GRIFFETH--GENERAL GORDON--SIR MARSHALL
CLARKE--STATE OF BASUTOLAND FROM 1843 TO PRESENT TIME--MODE OF
GOVERNMENT--HUT TAX--EXPENDITURE--MISSION SOCIETIES                   52


CHAPTER V.

THABA BOSIGO--CANNIBALS--THEIR MANNER OF CAPTURING AND DESTROYING
THEIR VICTIMS--MARK OF A CANNIBAL--"BAKUENA," OR THE PEOPLE OF THE
CROCODILE--SUPERSTITIONS--LAND TENURE                                 71


CHAPTER VI.

MARRIAGE CUSTOMS--DEATH CUSTOMS                                       80


CHAPTER VII.

BIRTH CUSTOMS--EDUCATION--INTELLECT--CHARACTER--NEWS CARRIERS         93


CHAPTER VIII.

NATIVE DOCTORS--RAIN MAKING--"THOKOLOSI," OR THE LITTLE DWARF--
"MOLOI"--MODE OF PREPARING FOR WAR--PROVERBS                         102


CHAPTER IX.

BOERS AND BASUTO                                                     111


CHAPTER X.

THE STORY OF TAKANE                                                  118


CHAPTER XI.

HOW KHOSI CHOSE A WIFE                                               129


CHAPTER XII.

THE VILLAGE MAIDENS AND THE CANNIBAL                                 134


CHAPTER XIII.

MORONGOE, THE SNAKE                                                  139


CHAPTER XIV.

THE SON CHIEF                                                        144


CHAPTER XV.

HOW RA-MOLO BECAME A SNAKE                                           155


CHAPTER XVI.

LELIMO AND THE MAGIC CAP                                             159


CHAPTER XVII.

THE CHIEF AND THE TIGERS                                             163


CHAPTER XVIII.

THE MAID AND THE SNAKE LOVER                                         167


CHAPTER XIX.

THE FAMINE                                                           172



Dedication.


_To T. L----._

DEAR ----

Some time ago, during a conversation about Basutoland, you suggested
that I should write an account of the country and its inhabitants, and
were kind enough to give me many valuable hints as to how I should
collect and arrange my information.

As you know, we came out to South Africa in January, 1891, and went up
to Basutoland in the following April.

We both liked the country from the first, and I soon became interested
in the people. To enable myself to understand them better, I began to
study the language, which I can now speak fairly well.

The fact of my husband being a Government official gave me many
opportunities of acquiring information, and, as we have been moved
about from one station to another, having had six "homes" in the ten
years of our sojourn there, I have naturally seen a considerable portion
of the country, and come in contact with many different specimens of the
Basuto race. I have made a practice of visiting the different villages,
and of seeing as much as possible of the inner life of the people, with
the result that I have at length put my impressions on paper, in the
hope that they may be found of some value to those who take an interest
in native habits and customs.

For the kind help and encouragement I have received from you, I am
deeply grateful, and hope you will allow me to dedicate to you this
small volume, which, without your aid, would never have been written.

       *       *       *       *       *

To those who have most kindly helped me with information, I tender my
grateful thanks.

MINNIE MARTIN.



CHAPTER I.

OUTLINE OF BASUTO HISTORY--MOSHESHUE--LETSIE--LEROTHOLI--SCENERY--
CLIMATE.


Were I to attempt to give a complete history of the Basuto I should fail
utterly, for my own personal knowledge of South Africa only extends over
the last ten years. Although several books have been written on the
subject by missionaries, the Basuto as a nation do not seem capable of
giving one much reliable information beyond the time of Tokoana
Makhautha, the grandfather of Mosheshue.

Here and there through the country old men are to be found who possess
marvellous stores of knowledge, but how much it can be relied upon,
would be a question impossible to answer satisfactorily.

My readers will, I hope, therefore content themselves with a brief
sketch of Basuto history from about the middle of the eighteenth
century.

Tokoana Makhautha was chief at that time of a considerable tract of
country in and around Witsies' Hoek. He seems to have been a stern,
ambitious man, with little of the "milk of human kindness" in his
character.

He was succeeded by his son Mokhatchane, who, however, possessed little
power, and who, when his children were come to manhood, installed his
son Mopeli at Witsies' Hoek, while he himself followed the fortunes of
his favourite son, who as a youth bore the name of "Lepoko" (a quarrel),
because he was born during a time of strife, but who afterwards assumed
the name of Mosheshue.

From the time of his abdication old Mokhatchane seems to have led a more
or less retired life at Thaba Bosigo, though no doubt he exerted a
certain amount of influence over Mosheshue, and was treated with
considerable respect. Filial obedience is a very strong trait in all
Basutos.

Mosheshue began his "reign" by subduing one or two small tribes, and
with these and his original followers betook himself to an almost
impregnable mountain in the centre of the Lesuto, called Thaba Bosigo
(the Mountain of Night), where he built his village, fortifying it so as
to make it a perfectly secure stronghold. Here he established his
chieftainship, and, after various wars, reverses and successes,
conquered or dispersed all rivals, and soon succeeded in becoming
Paramount Chief of the greater part of Basutoland, or, as it ought more
correctly to be called, the Lesuto.

Mosheshue was possessed of great ambition, singular courage, and
firmness; but acts of brutality or injustice have never been coupled
with his name. Judging from all accounts, he seems to have been a bright
exception to the chiefs of that time. His ambition was to rule the
Lesuto as its undisputed Sovereign, and he saw that to do so he must win
not only men's obedience, but their confidence and respect. He was a man
of commanding appearance and very great intelligence. He taught his
people not only to respect but also to love him.

During the greater part of his reign there were constant fights with
various tribes, such as the Batlokua, the Amalubi, the Baputi, etc., but
one by one they gathered under his sway, and were ruled wisely and with
wonderful justice and skill. He is still looked upon as the "Great
Father" ('Ntate Mogholo) of his people, and the most sacred form of oath
is that which swears "truly by Mosheshue."

It was while he was yet in the prime of life that the first
missionaries, MM. Eugene Casalis, Arbousset and Gosselin, entered the
Lesuto, in 1833. M. Casalis, in his book, "My Life in Basutoland,"
describes his introduction to Mosheshue (who he considers must have been
then about forty-five), his wizened old father, Mokhatchane, and his
favourite wife, a woman with a calm, happy face, and the manners of a
lady, and between whom and her lord existed a very strong bond of love.

But chiefly M. Casalis was struck with Mosheshue, whom he describes as
a man with a "majestic and benevolent look, a profile much more aquiline
than that of most of his subjects, a well-developed forehead, and eyes
full of intelligence and softness."

Mosheshue died in 1880, and was succeeded by his eldest son Letsie, a
man of a cruel, crafty nature, who held his people forcibly to their
allegiance, threatening, "smelling out," and in many cases actually
torturing those who showed signs of rebellion. Strange to say, shortly
before his death, he expressed a wish to become a Christian, but died
before being baptized, in the spring of 1892, and was buried with great
pomp and ceremony on the top of Thaba Bosigo, the burial-place of the
great chiefs. His son, Lerotholi, then became the Paramount Chief.

Lerotholi must be now about fifty years of age. He is a big, stout man,
not nearly so pleasing or attractive in appearance as some of the other
chiefs, but by no means devoid of intelligence, and at times can be
extremely polite and agreeable. As a boy, he was not allowed to share
the educational advantages of his brothers, and was for a time kept in
the mountains, in charge of his father's cattle; consequently he can
neither read nor write, but he has considerable natural ability, and is
quick to penetrate the right and wrong of the cases brought up to him
for judgment. Unfortunately, he inherits some of his father's cruel and
crafty qualities, and is much feared by his people, but he has a
wholesome respect for his Sovereign, and that Sovereign's
representative, the Resident Commissioner. Yet, with such a nature as
his, I should think the greatest tact and patience are necessary. He
has, however, proved himself undoubtedly loyal, as have almost all the
other chiefs, and, in fact, the whole nation; but how much is due to
their own "good hearts," and how much to the tactful way in which they
were handled, added to their hatred of the Dutch, I leave others to
unravel.

Lerotholi is, of course, a polygamist, but then almost, if not all, the
chiefs are the proud possessors of more than one wife, though none would
dare to support an establishment as large as his, even if they could
afford to do so.

He lives at Matsyeng, the headquarters of the Paramount Chief, situated
a short distance from Maseru, which latter place is the headquarters of
the Government. Near here is held the annual "Pitso" or Parliament, to
which all the chiefs, the headmen and thousands of less exalted
personages flock. This Pitso is "called" by the Resident Commissioner,
who presides over the whole proceeding, surrounded by his staff, and all
the Assistant Commissioners from the separate districts. The laws which
have been drawn up or altered during the past year are then read out to
the people, and receive the approval of the chiefs. There is naturally a
good deal of discussion, but the people quite acknowledge British rule,
and know that when a law is made they must obey it, though, if any real
objection is brought forward, it always receives due attention.

At the present time the principal chiefs under Lerotholi are Jonathan,
Joel, Mama, Letsie (Lerotholi's son and heir-apparent), 'Nquebe and
Griffeth. The latter is a younger and favourite son of the Paramount
Chief. Jonathan and Joel are sons of Molapo, and cousins of Lerotholi.
They are both men of considerable ability, Jonathan in particular being
most polished and well educated.

The Lesuto, or as it is more commonly called, Basutoland, is also called
the Switzerland of South Africa, a name well suited to such a
mountainous country. To the big busy world it is a comparatively unknown
land, but to those who have seen its wild, rugged beauty, it is a land
of great attraction. It has an area of about 10,000 square miles, with a
population of nearly 300,000, of whom only about 500 are European. The
country itself is extremely mountainous, almost entirely destitute of
trees, save at the various magistracies and mission and trading
stations, and at some of the larger and better-class villages.

Government gives a considerable sum yearly to be spent in trees, which
are distributed through the country, with a view to encouraging the
natives to raise timber. This is by no means difficult, as the Basutos
are only too ready to plant anything and everything likely to be useful,
either for food or in any other capacity.

The scenery of Basutoland is rugged and grand, with a beauty quite its
own, and unlike any other part of South Africa I have seen. As you enter
from the Orange River Colony, you see enormous rocks and "kopjes"
jutting up here and there all around you, while every now and then up
rises a majestic mountain, as a rule with table-land on the summit;
below lie fertile valleys and more or less (generally less) level
plains, and in the far distance, looking east, rises the beautiful range
of the Malutis, a spur of the Drackensberg Mountains, which separate
Basutoland from Natal.

This is one of the most picturesque ranges imaginable. One day it stands
out clear and sharp, every ravine visible to the naked eye, the next it
is dim, distant, and to all appearances devoid of ravines or precipices;
then again it is capable of most varied tints, from pearly grey, dim and
shadowy, to deep, rich, glowing purple, in the sun's setting rays. In
the winter the Malutis are nearly always covered with snow, which
greatly adds to the beauty of the scenery, but renders it most unsafe
to travel. Often dense fogs come down without any warning, making it
impossible to see even a yard in front of one. Woe betide the hardy
traveller who attempts to continue his journey at such a time! It is
almost certain death.

The population on these mountains is very small, and consists chiefly of
the herds at the cattle posts, with an isolated village here and there.
These herds are generally youths and boys, whose duty it is to care for
the cattle and sheep, sent up from the different villages in the
"plains" for the sake of the rich pasture to be found in the valleys and
on the table-lands of these mountains. Hither every autumn are brought
all the animals that can be spared from the lower and more barren lands,
to winter and escape the semi-starvation, and often death, which await
their less fortunate fellows, whose fate it is to remain at the
homesteads below. It is quite a picturesque scene to see one of these
cavalcades start. The herd boys pack up enough meal, salt, mealies and
Kaffir corn to last for their own use through the winter, their only
other food being the flesh of any beast or bird they can manage to kill
with their sticks aided by their dogs, or the carcase of any of the
flock which dies or comes to an untimely end. When the provisions are
ready, they are slung on the backs of several pack oxen, the younger
boys taking charge of them, a boy to each ox, which they hold by a
leather or grass rope converted into reins by being passed through the
poor animal's nose and both ends tied together, making a loop long
enough to pass over his horns on to his neck. All the guiding is done by
hitting the horns. The older herds then take up their musical
instruments, which they begin to play, leading the way, followed by all
the flock, and accompanied by several dogs. The pack oxen and boys bring
up the rear. In this way they journey to the particular spot chosen by
their particular chief, and here they remain till summer comes, when
they return to their homes in the same manner as they set out. They
never hurry; the animals graze as they go, finding abundant pasture by
the way.

As I said before, the country is almost destitute of trees now, though
it evidently was well wooded at one time. The soil is rich and fertile,
the crops sown by the Basuto in the most happy-go-lucky style yielding
splendid returns as a rule, and, where European care and skill have been
expended, richly repaying the owner.

The mountains in the western part of the country, which stand up in
solitary state, like great giants guarding their land, are for the most
part flat topped, with splendid pasture on the table-land. They are
wonderfully alike in size and shape, fairly easy of ascent near the
bottom, steep and rocky, often precipitous near the top. A few of these
mountains are conical in shape, and one or two are most grotesque.

Scattered all over the face of the country are numbers of enormous rocks
of every conceivable shape, sometimes lying in solitary state, at other
places grouped in twos and threes side by side, and yet again lying one
on the top of the other, often the larger one on top. This at a distance
presents an appearance somewhat like a badly-shaped mushroom.

At Tsikoani, where Chief Jonathan Molapo lives, there is an enormous
natural table, constructed out of three great rocks. At the back of the
village rises a steep mountain, almost precipitous on three sides. In
this are several caves, one of which extends for a considerable
distance, following as it were the outline of the mountain, then
plunging recklessly through it, emerging at length upon the farther
side. It is in most places of great height, but there are two extremely
narrow parts, like tiny passages, into large reception halls. In one of
these caves there are, on the roof, gigantic fossilized footprints,
which at first were supposed to be those of some enormous bird. This
greatly exercised people's minds, for how, they argued, could a bird
stand with head and body suspended downwards. However, it has now been
proved that they are the footprints of a prehistoric lizard, and that
formerly the rock must have been in an almost upright position. A
portion of this rock was hewn out and sent to the last Kimberley
Exhibition, whence it found its way to the Bloemfontein Museum, where, I
believe, it now lies.

Beyond Tsikoani there lay, until quite recently, the trunk of a fossil
tree, about ten feet in length and over two feet in diameter. When it
was discovered the European population of Leribe (in which district it
was found) were naturally much interested, and went in small parties on
several occasions to visit the spot, carrying away small pieces of the
tree as souvenirs. The Basuto could not understand these visits--their
suspicions were aroused--"Could this stone contain some form of
witchcraft, or was there unknown wealth hidden within it?" Not being
able to solve the mystery, they destroyed the tree.

From the curious shape of many of the large rocks, and from the
formation of the "kopjes," one is led to believe that in former ages the
country must have been subject to great volcanic disturbances. To many
people, I should think the study of the various fossils and physical
features of the country would prove deeply interesting; even to watch
the changes caused in a few years by the floods, which turn tiny streams
into deep dongas, and wash away one landmark here and another there, is
of no small interest.

The river-beds are rocky at and near their sources, gradually becoming
sandy as they increase in size, with here and there rocky beds of a
basaltic appearance, continuing for perhaps a few hundred yards at most.
On the banks and in the coarser sandy beds are to be found beautifully
transparent crystals, sometimes of great size, also agates, and many and
varied beautifully coloured and polished stones.

In dry weather all the larger rivers in Basutoland are sluggish, calm
tracts of water, the smaller streams mere silvery trickles, bubbling
happily in and out amongst the stones on their course, but they all rise
rapidly, and in an almost incredibly short time become roaring torrents,
most dangerous, nay even impossible to ford. Both to see and hear a
river "coming down" is a thing never to be forgotten. The roar of the
first big volume of water as it comes is not a pleasant sound to the
traveller crossing "the drift," the sight still less pleasant if he is
not already across. There are no bridges in Basutoland, and many of the
drifts are steep and unpleasant, even in fine weather, when there is
only a normal quantity of water in the river.

In the time of the old chief Molapo, women invariably went to the top of
Leribe Mountain, a large table-land, to dig for clay with which to
plaster their huts. Upon one occasion they found some pretty stones,
which they gave as playthings to their children. Some Europeans
happening to see these stones, at once recognised that they were
diamonds of considerable value, and endeavoured to buy them (one was
reported to be "as large as a big man's thumb"), but Molapo, hearing of
it, ordered the stones to be returned to the place where they were found
and re-buried in the clay; nor would he, in future, allow any one to
revisit that spot. In order to keep a constant watch upon the place, he
had a village built close by, whose inhabitants were to inform him of
any one attempting to disobey his commands. The village is still there,
and the spot is guarded as jealously as ever. Very few people know of
this, and I do not suppose that more than two Europeans could find the
place where those diamonds lie buried. The Basuto have such a dread of
their country becoming overrun with white men that they most jealously
guard its wealth. The land is theirs, they say. If the white man thinks
it has gold and diamonds he will take it from them.

This is not the only spot in the country upon which a constant watch is
kept. There is gold quartz to be found in some of the river beds, and
they are guarded. There are reefs here and there through the western
part of Basutoland which certainly indicate gold, and they, too, are
guarded. A friend of mine one day, in walking up a hill, picked up a
piece of quartz and took it home to show her husband. The next day she
was politely asked by the chief of the district why she had been picking
up his stones, and would she be so kind as not to take any more from
that spot. It was, of course, very politely put, but it showed how much
the chief knew, and that he dreaded that knowledge being carried out of
the country.

In addition to the above, Basutoland also boasts of some very good coal,
both in the north and in the Mohale's Hoek district in the south; but,
though these mines have been worked to a certain extent for local
consumption, the chiefs have now put a stop to further workings. The
native brass and iron, too, is fairly good, and there is excellent clay
for pottery purposes.

Beyond Chief Khabo's village, in the Leribe district, there is a cave on
the sides of which a salty deposit is formed, which, in former days, the
buck came to lick, and which the goats and sheep greatly appreciate now.
Inside the cave are some Bushman paintings of the usual type, while
outside, near the entrance, are some traps made by the Bushmen to catch
buck. These traps are circular depressions in the ground, about ten feet
in diameter. One wonders how such tiny people could have made them.
Originally they were of considerable depth, and were covered over with
bushes. The victims caught in these traps were chiefly eland,
hartebeeste, and springbok. There are Bushman caves in various parts of
Basutoland, especially in the Quthing district, but in most of them the
paintings have become rather indistinct, and in some cases have been
almost entirely obliterated by mischievous little herd boys. The scenes,
as a rule, represent extremely minute Bushmen hunting and capturing
gigantic elands. Occasionally a fight is depicted, in which huge Kaffir
warriors are fleeing in confusion before their triumphant pixie-like
foes.

There are now only about half-a-dozen survivors of the Bushman race in
Basutoland, and they no longer live by themselves, but with the Basuto,
who treat them kindly and quite as members of their own families, though
the term "Bushman," or, as it is in Sesuto, "Baroa" (literally the
yellow people), is still one of contempt.

They are funny little stunted creatures, very yellow in colour, with
high cheek-bones, small bright eyes, and a meagre quantity of hair on
their heads, each woolly curl being quite separate and apart from the
next, with the scalp plainly visible all round.

In addition to its other many attractions, Basutoland possesses some
really beautiful waterfalls, the three largest being the far-famed
Malutsunyane, the Telle, and the Ketane Falls. The Telle Falls are
almost unknown, but quite as high as, if not higher than, the
Malutsunyane. They lie in the Quthing district, close to the Herschel
border. The other two falls are in the Maluti Mountains, about the
centre of Basutoland. To reach them is not easy, consequently the number
of adventurers keen enough to face the discomforts and difficulties is
small. Of course the rainy season is the best for seeing the falls to
the fullest advantage, as the volume of water is large and the effect
much finer (on a bright day) than during the dry season; but there is
naturally more discomfort in travelling, and one's journey, both going
and coming, may be considerably prolonged by the state of the rivers,
spruits and dongas, not to mention the slippery state of the path down
the mountain sides. Of course, the only way (apart from "Shanks's pony")
is to ride, taking a packhorse or two (according to the number of your
party), well laden with provisions, tents, and the necessary amount of
clothing. The Malutsunyane Falls are 630 ft.; the Telle, I fancy, have
only once been "sized up," and, if I remember rightly, were estimated to
be about 650 ft. in height. The Ketane is the smallest, but the most
beautiful of the three in its surroundings. The Basuto believe that in
the big pool at the foot of each falls lives a sacred reptile, somewhat
resembling a snake, with a head like a sheep. It is the spirit of the
waters, and is always attended by a rainbow.

The largest river in Basutoland is the Sinkou, or Orange River, which
rises in the Malutis and passes through the southern districts, forming
the border between Herschel and the Orange River Colony. There are few
rivers more beautiful than the Sinkou, running as it does down deep
ravines, twisting in and out, now round this kopje, now round that,
broadening here to considerable proportions, flowing so calmly, so
silently as almost to resemble still water, and anon rushing and roaring
through some deep, narrow defile, lashing itself in masses of white foam
against the black rocks which jut up here and there, as if angry with
them for interrupting its erstwhile quiet flow. There are parts where
the water is of considerable depth, and one or two places (formerly the
abodes of "sea cows") which are many fathoms deep. Fish are plentiful,
and there are some delightful reaches on which to sail one's boat. There
are many rivers in various parts of the country, some fair-sized, some
merely what in Scotland we would term "a burn," but none so beautiful as
the Sinkou.

Basutoland abound in deep kloofs, or ravines, the steep sides of which
are often covered with short stunted bushes and huge boulders, and at
the bottom, in fine weather, warbles a tiny silver stream, which, after
a thunderstorm, or in the rainy season, is converted into a brown,
muddy torrent, carrying everything pell-mell before it.

At Butha-Buthe, in the North, there is a piece of swampy ground which,
to the ordinary observer, merely looks like a good place for ducks and
frogs, yet, to the native inhabitants of the district, it is more or
less sacred ground, as one spot there is inhabited by a spirit. Some
years ago, without any apparent reason, smoke was seen issuing from this
"Khapong," as it is called. No one had set it alight; no sign of human
interference could be found, nor did the ground consume away, yet, night
and day, through rain and sunshine, for three whole months, this streak
of smoke was seen to arise from the selfsame spot, with never even the
smallest tongue of flame to be seen; consequently it came to be regarded
as a spot sacred to the Spirit of Maternity, and hither, from time to
time, come old and young with offerings of beadwork, money, food, dolls,
etc., hoping thus to propitiate the spirit within, and to receive a
favourable answer to their prayers.

Once, while we were stationed at Butha-Buthe, there was great excitement
amongst the people, for the streak of smoke was again seen slowly
ascending skywards. It was a pouring wet day, when one would have found
it impossible to light a fire out of doors, yet the rain had apparently
no effect on this mysterious fire.

My servants called me to look, and there, sure enough, it was--a thin
grey streak of smoke steadily mounting towards the clouds, but on this
occasion it did not continue for more than a few hours, during which
time it was far too wet for me to venture down to investigate the spot.
Afterwards I thoroughly searched the place, but, beyond seeing a small
strip of black, peat-like soil on the edge of a small sluit, and finding
money, bangles, beads, and clay dolls laid underneath a projecting piece
of the bank, I saw nothing. There was absolutely _no_ trace of a fire.
Some of the dolls, very primitive in shape, had evidently been lying
there for years. There are several similar spots in various other parts
of the country.

The climate of Basutoland is said to be the healthiest in South Africa.
It certainly is good. The air is delightfully rare and pure, and in most
parts very bracing, and the whole country lies very high, no part of it
being, I believe, lower than 4,000 ft, while many of the stations are
built at a height of from 5,000 ft. to 6,000 ft, the highest peak in the
mountains reaching to a little over 10,000 ft. There are, however, great
extremes of heat and cold, which must be somewhat trying to delicate
constitutions, and the high altitude is more or less to blame, I fancy,
for the numbers of nervous complaints amongst the European population.

In the summer, which lasts from November to March, there are frequent
gales, the winds in early summer being nearly always hot and dry,
scorching the skin, and making the housewife's life a burden to her, by
reason of the dust which _will_ penetrate into every corner of her
rooms. The heat is often very great, the thermometer rarely falling
below 88° F. in the shade in the day, and not infrequently rising to
103° F.; while in winter it is almost equally cold, the mountains being
often white with snow, which falls also on the lowlands, though it
rarely lies there for more than a few hours. The winds at these times
generally elect to blow off the mountains, and are so piercingly cold
that it is extremely difficult to keep warm, but it is a most healthy
and bracing cold. In spring and early summer the hailstorms do great
damage to the early crops, and the thunderstorms all through the hot
weather are very severe, the lightning fatalities being by no means
infrequent.



CHAPTER II.

APPEARANCE OF BASUTO--ALBINOS--NATIVE VILLAGES--HUTS--MANNER OF
LIVING--DRESS--ORNAMENTS.


The Basuto are a fine, well-proportioned race, though as a rule the men
are not so tall nor so well-built as the Zulus.

They are of a soft brown colour, with less protruding lips, and more
regular features than the Colonial Kaffir, and with far pleasanter
expressions; graceful and upright, with considerable intelligence, and
remarkably amiable. As a nation they are wonderfully honest and
trustworthy. They are far more "tillers of the soil" than men of battle,
preferring to live at peace with their neighbours to treading the war
path.

The women are good-natured and docile, slaves to their lord and master,
acknowledging his complete power and superiority over them with perfect
contentment. They naturally possess a certain amount of vanity, and, to
gratify it, will endure no small amount of pain in tattooing their
faces, but in this the men are not behindhand. As a rule, both sexes are
devoted to their children, who lead healthy, happy young lives, free
from care, not cumbered with over-much clothing, and with few duties or
restraints.

A strange feature of this race is the number of Albinos to be found in
it, and, since the white man became a familiar object to the Basuto,
these poor hideous creatures are, by many of their more fortunate
brethren, looked upon as quite lovely specimens of humanity. I know one
policeman, who told me with great pride that he had married a white
wife, who was very pretty. Would I not go to see her? I went, not quite
understanding, for I had only been a short time in the country, and it
was with great difficulty that I was able to disguise my feeling of
repulsion. She was indeed hideous, poor creature, yet she quite gave
herself the airs of a beauty, and smiled contentedly upon me, little
dreaming of the feelings she was awakening. Since then I have seen a
good many more, but never have I been able to conquer my strong dislike
to these most unnatural-looking beings. There is one grave fault about a
Mosuto, which is that he has no idea of truthfulness. To him it is no
crime to tell a lie--in fact, he finds it an absolutely necessary
virtue. It is at times quite ludicrous to hear the solemn and, to all
seeming, most truthful account given you about some small episode by an
open-faced, honest-looking Mosuto, when all the time you are in a
position to know that there is hardly a word of truth in what he is
saying. I have tried to make them understand how wrong it is to tell
such falsehoods, but, beyond a half shame-faced and wholly mischievous
smile, my words never seemed to have much effect.

The Basuto usually build their villages on the side of a mountain or
kopje, selecting situations which offer many natural means of defence.
Their huts are generally circular, sod-wall buildings, with thatch
roofs, and outside each hut, as a rule, is a sort of palisade of reeds
called a "skerm," in which all the cooking and frequently the eating
also takes place. When a man wanted to build a hut, in the days before
they adopted more civilized modes, and even now, in the more remote
parts of the country, he took a stick, to which he fastened a strip of
ox-hide, stuck the other end of the strip firmly in the ground with
another peg, and, with the stick in his hand, drew a complete circle; on
this line he raised the walls of his dwelling; these are made of square
sods, roughly dug off the surface of the ground and laid one on the top
of the other until the required height is reached. The walls are then
smeared over, inside and out, with wet clay, which is the women's work.
The woodwork of the roof is then laid on. It consists of branches of
trees interlaced and fastened securely at the top with grass rope. On
this the reeds are thickly laid and stitched down to the woodwork by
more grass rope. The inner walls of the hut are often ornamented by
rough scrollwork in different coloured clays. A small aperture serves
as window, and over the entrance is hung a reed mat, made by lashing
together with the sinews of cattle a number of dried reeds. The floors
are of mud, beaten down till perfectly hard and fairly even. They are
smeared over afresh every week or ten days, in order to preserve them,
and also as a matter of cleanliness, much as an English housewife scrubs
her floors. In the more wealthy dwellings the floors are from time to
time smeared over with bullock's blood. This gives them a dark, slightly
polished appearance, and makes them very much harder on the surface than
those of the poorer individuals, who have to content themselves with a
mixture of clay and manure from the cattle kraals. The original
furniture of a native hut consisted of a mat, similar to the one hung
over the entrance; a few skins, which answered the purpose of clothing
by day and bedding by night; a few earthenware pots and wooden spurtles,
or spoons, one or two horn spoons, often very prettily carved; and neat,
strong baskets of various shapes and sizes, but chiefly round, and
somewhat like an enlarged basin. The cooking was all done in the
earthenware pots until European traders introduced iron pots and
kettles.

The chief or headman lives in the centre circle of the village. All the
huts in the older villages are built in circles, one within another.
This was done as a means of guarding more securely the chief and his
family. As a rule, the chief has one or two buildings for his own
exclusive use, while his wives' huts are built either in a row or round
his own larger, more highly-finished dwellings. Each wife has a separate
hut, which is her own little kingdom.

Frequently the cattle kraal (a large enclosure) is found near the centre
of the village, and near it is the large hut called the "Khotla" or
Court, where the chief daily sits to administer justice (according to
his interpretation of the word). There is always a large open space in
front of the Khotla, where the people gather to hear the cases and to
discuss the various complaints or offences. The Basuto are wonderfully
given to long-winded discussions and explanations, and one would think a
chief needed the patience of many Jobs to listen, as he often has to do,
for hours at a time, to tedious and voluminous evidence from one man
after another about some paltry case which, in an European Court, would
be disposed of in a few moments.

The more civilized Basuto are rapidly learning to build square, stone
huts, more like European dwellings, as they have adopted European dress
and European household utensils; but the old native dwellings and dress
are, to my mind, infinitely more picturesque, and their native
ornaments, made of native metal, brass, iron, etc., infinitely more
interesting than the awful "Brummagem" atrocities sold to them by the
traders in the country.

I was much struck, when first I entered Basutoland, with the great
superiority of the Basuto villages to those of the colonial Kaffirs
which I had seen in the Eastern Province, both as regards cleanliness,
neatness and durability, and I was equally pleased with the Basuto
themselves, finding them both polite and obliging.

In the days before soap found its way into the country the people used
to wash themselves with pieces of white clay, rubbing it all over
themselves much as one rubs soap, or if they did not wish to use the
clay, they dug out a large bulb which they call "Khapompo." It is the
root of a broad-leafed plant, somewhat like a pineapple plant in shape,
and is very astringent. When first used it causes a rash to appear on
the surface of the skin, but after a few applications makes the skin
soft and smooth.

In the old days, and still amongst the wilder and less civilized Basuto,
the men's dress consisted of a kaross (letata), or blanket of skins,
which they wore with the fur inside and fastened on to the shoulder by a
couple of soft straps made of skin, and sewn firmly to the kaross with
ox sinews, the only cotton they know of. Their only other article of
clothing was a lamb skin strapped round their loins. The women wore
aprons of sheep skins, one skin being considered quite large enough,
while behind they tied an ox hide, cut into the shape of a circular
cloak. Above the waist they wore nothing, unless in very cold weather,
when they also wrapped themselves up in karosses. The little boys were,
and are, clad in nature's garb, pure and simple, until they attain the
age of twelve, when they adopt men's costumes.

The little girls from babyhood wear what they call "tetana," which is a
deep fringe made of a thin-leaved weed, called by them "tseketlane."
This they tie round their waists. To make it they take a strip of skin,
cured and softened, until it resembles chamois leather, cut this about
an inch broad, and wide enough to go easily round the child's hips, then
take a large quantity of the weed, tear off the two outer parts, leaving
only the back bone, as it were, which is about as thick as moderately
fine string. The women then roll this up and down on their well-greased
and red-clayed thighs, until it turns from a silvery white to a reddish
brown. Bunches of these they sew to the strap all the way round. Their
manner of sewing is naturally primitive. They make small sharp probes of
native metal; with these they pierce holes in the strap, and, dividing
the fringe in half, they tighten it "through the middle" on to the strap
by means of dried sinews, and let the top part of the fringe fall over
the lower part, thus making it of double thickness.

The kaross is made by sewing a number of skins together with sinew, the
skins as a rule being of rock rabbit, or small deer, and occasionally of
silver jackal. The skins are first dried, then rubbed over with powdered
sandstone till thoroughly clean and more pliable, then rubbed by hand,
always keeping the hands well greased, the greatest care being taken not
to spoil the fur or rub holes. This rubbing is continued until the whole
skin is thoroughly pliable and as soft as silk, by which time it is
ready to be sewn.

The original ornaments consisted of brass rings of various sizes, beaten
out to considerable width, and worn by the women round their necks;
bangles, roughly twisted, of brass, on the arms from the wrist almost up
to the elbow, and larger ones round the ankle and just below the knee;
and bangles made of soft iron about an inch and a half broad and roughly
carved by means of pieces of sharpened iron; also necklaces and bangles
of the heads of a grass rather resembling Kaffir corn in miniature.
These they used to plait very artistically, drying some in the huts in
order to preserve the green tint, and others outside in the sun so as
bleach them. Ornaments for dances consisted of, in addition to those
already mentioned, skins specially "scratched" by their needles into
artistic scrolls, circles, and crosses; anklets made of skin, into small
bags partially filled with small smooth pebbles, and wetted and allowed
to harden. These make a peculiar rustling rattle as the dancer moves.
The men also wear ox tails suspended from both elbows, both shoulders,
and both knees, and a head-dress made either of quantities of feathers,
and not unlike a busby, or one of the hair off many ox tails. They also
carry a shield made of hard stiff hide, and a long stick, straight and
beautifully polished, with a round knob at the top.

Men and women alike smear their bodies, faces, and hands with a mixture
of red clay and fat, but this is a general practice, and not only for
fête days, even the tiny babies being polished in this way.

For a girl the correct dancing costume consisted of the fringe round the
hips, the anklets of skin and pebbles, and a head-dress made of the
crest of the golden-crested crane and other crested birds. The married
women simply don their best skins and hold a more or less fantastic
stick in their hands.

Since European traders have settled in the country the Basuto have
taught themselves to make wire and bead necklaces and bangles of really
remarkable attractiveness, their bead work being most elaborate. To make
a bead necklace they will buy a quantity of different coloured beads,
which they thread on fine sinews, not in single rows, but in broad
patterns, sometimes two and three inches wide. Sometimes the colours are
worked alternately, sometimes in squares, and sometimes diagonally.
These are fastened by the sinew in the form of a loop on one side, and a
bunch of beads or a button on the other. The bangles are made of grass
plaited into a circular strand, on to which they string the beads until
the grass foundation is completely hidden. They also embroider their
skins with many coloured beads, and make a regular waistband of beads.
They make small brass buttons out of the soft native brass with which
they edge their "dresses."

The wire bangles are made of copper wire, brass wire, and aluminium wire
of various thickness (generally very fine). These wires are twisted
together, or plaited in the same way in which they plait their grass.
Some of them are remarkably pretty.

The brass neck ornaments are made out of the native metal, which is dug
out and melted, and then poured into a hollow previously made in a large
flat stone, and this forms it into a ring large enough to encircle a
woman's neck. Before the metal is cold it is polished with round smooth
stones, while still soft it is cut through at one end, and gently forced
open until the woman is able to insert her neck. It is then firmly
pressed together and held there until cold and hard. These ornaments are
called "lepetu," and are extremely difficult to remove. I once asked a
woman if her "lepetu" ever hurt her, she seemed much amused and
surprised at my question, and laughingly replied, "Certainly not." Their
manner of removing them is somewhat barbarous. The woman kneels down,
two reims or straps are put through each side, and a steady pull begins,
a man holding each reim. As soon as the opening is large enough, the
woman squeezes her neck out, and rises free from her bonds.



CHAPTER III.

MANNER OF CULTIVATING THE SOIL--GRAIN--HARVEST-FOOD--MANNER OF EATING--
RESOURCES OF THE COUNTRY--IMPORTS--STATUS OF WOMEN--CHILDREN--RELIGIOUS
CUSTOMS--MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS--HEATHEN SCHOOLS--AMUSEMENTS.


The way in which the ground was cultivated prior to the introduction of
spades and hoes, was not calculated to produce heavy crops, yet so rich
is the soil that the grain sown came up splendidly, and provided neither
locusts nor drought visited the land, heavy crops were yielded. The
implements used were small iron hoes, which the Basuto made out of the
iron found in the country. After melting the iron, they hit it into flat
pieces about twice the size of a man's hand, and very much that shape.
The part corresponding to the human arm was forced, when hot, into the
end of a long thick stick; the other end was sharpened on the hard flint
stones brought for that purpose from the Malutis.

With these hoes the Basuto "chopped up" the ground, the seed having been
scattered first of all on the undisturbed surface.

When weeding-time came, the Basuto took short thick sticks, which they
sharpened with their "knives." The weeding is always done by the women.
In drought the women used to carry water in their earthenware pots to
water the "lands," even the small children helping in this work.

A "knife" was merely a flat strip of native iron about as broad as two
fingers and sharpened round the edges.

The seeds used by the Basuto were millet, or "Kaffir corn," maize, or
"mealies," and a species of sweet reed known as "Intsué," also pumpkins,
and in times of famine they lived upon the seed of the long rank grass,
which they call "Moseka."

When the crops were ripe the whole village went out to gather them. The
pumpkins were stored in empty huts, the ripe heads of the Kaffir corn
were cut off one by one, thrown into baskets and carried to a spot
outside the cornfield which had already been prepared as a
thrashing-floor, by removing all vegetation and smearing it over in the
same manner as the floor of a hut. When the thrashing-floor was well
covered with grain, the cattle were driven into it, and round and round,
until the corn was all thrashed out. The cattle were then driven off,
and the women separated the stalks or heads from the grain; then the
baskets were filled, and the grain allowed to fall gently into a clean
basket, thus getting rid of all dust and chaff, which was blown away by
the air. Mealies were picked off the stalk, thrown into baskets, and
removed to the village where the women stripped the mealies from the
cobs by means of small sharp stones, with which they used to hit off the
mealies, holding the cob in the left hand on a large flat stone. The
harvesting is still done in very much the same manner, save that flails
are now used to thrash with in most parts of the country.

When the grain is dry it is stored in enormous bag-like baskets,
sometimes 6 ft., and even more, in height. When full, these baskets are
securely closed, and no one except the master of the house is allowed to
open them. These baskets are kept outside, near the owner's hut, and in
wet weather are covered with skins.

There is considerable jealousy over the harvesting, it being thought
that the chief has shown great favouritism should one "land" yield a
much better crop than another. To avoid unpleasantness, a man who sees
his crop is larger than his neighbour's will dig a hole in some
unfrequented spot, into which he will put one of the grain baskets, and
at night he and his family will carry their grain to this hiding-place,
carefully removing all traces likely to arouse the suspicions of any
wanderer who might chance to pass by. When the time comes to visit this
secret store for the purpose of removing the grain for the household
use, the visits are paid only at night time, one member of the family
remaining at home to see that the movements of the others are not
observed.

The chief food of the Basuto is a sort of porridge, made either of
Kaffir corn or mealies, and a species of bread made from the white
mealie.

The grain is ground by the women into meal on large, flat, smooth
stones, with small round stones like rollers. The women kneel in front
of the large stone, which they raise into a slanting position, so that
as they grind the meal will fall on the skin laid under the lower end of
the stone. They work the "roller" up and down the flat stone over the
grain with a steady rhythmical motion, accompanying the movement with a
low monotonous chant.

The "Motoho," or porridge, is made by merely stirring the meal into
boiling water over a fire, until it is as thick as a stiff paste. If
salt is procurable a little is added to the water before boiling. They
also make a sour "Motoho," which is regarded as far more of a delicacy
than the ordinary porridge. This is made by mixing extremely coarse meal
with boiling water. Cover this mixture, and place on one side for a few
moments. Pour into this a quantity of luke-warm water, and add a little
"tomoso" (yeast). Leave this to "work" until the next morning, then
remove all the meal, squeezing it as dry as possible, and grind it very
finely; then put back into the same water, stir well, and strain and
cook over a brisk fire, stirring it all the time for nearly an hour. It
is then ready to eat.

The "Bogobe," or bread, is made by pouring mealie meal into a pot of
boiling water. Do not stir or break, and allow it to boil for about half
an hour; then stir it and allow it to cook gently for about half an
hour, then take it out and roll into large balls. Put a small quantity
of water in the bottom of the pot; make a rest of small twigs to prevent
the bread falling into the water, and cook for a long time, probably
about an hour.

Sour bread, or "Bogobe bo bolila," is made by taking coarse mealie meal,
mixing it with cold water and a little yeast. Put this stiff dough out
into the sunshine to rise. When sufficiently risen it is rolled into
flat, round loaves, and cooked in the same manner as the sweet "Bogobe."

Pumpkins are put whole into a pot of boiling water and boiled until
ready.

Meat is as a rule grilled on the red ash of the fire, and by no means
_over_ done.

There are certain parts of an animal which the women are not allowed to
eat, such as the kidney, heart, head, feet, stomach, and liver. This
latter the women can eat raw if they like. Eggs are also forbidden.

Their drinks consist of "juala," or strong beer, and "leting," or mild
beer. These are both made from Kaffir corn. "Juala" is made by soaking
the Kaffir corn in water for twenty-four hours. It is then put into a
bag made from a hide. This bag is buried in the ground, and a fire
lighted above every morning and again in the evening for three or four
days, or until the corn begins to sprout. It is then spread out to dry,
and when quite dry, it is ground very fine, put in a large pot, and a
quantity of boiling water poured on it, with the addition of a little
yeast. This is allowed to stand for a day and a night, and early next
morning it is boiled; it is then put into several pots to cool. At night
a quantity of fresh meal is stirred into each pot with enough luke-warm
water to make it the consistency of thin gruel, and a little fresh yeast
is added. The next morning it is strained ready to drink. It is by this
time highly intoxicating.

"Leting" is made from Kaffir corn in the same way as "juala" in the
early stages, but after grinding the sprouting-grain and pouring the
boiling water upon it with a little yeast, it is only left for a few
hours to ferment, when it is strained and ready for use. It is a cool,
sub-acid drink, very refreshing on a hot day, and only intoxicating when
taken in enormous quantities, quite beyond the consumption of ordinary
mortals.

The yeast, or "tomoso," is made by grinding a small quantity of green
mealies and pouring enough luke-warm water over it to make a thick
gruel. This is covered up and allowed to stand for twelve hours. The
sieve, or "Motlotlo," is made of woven grass, about six in. in diameter
at the mouth, and from a foot to a couple of feet long, narrowing to a
point at the bottom.

The Basuto have only two meals a day, one corresponding to our
breakfast, before the day's work begins; the other at sunset. The women
prepare the food, while the men look after the cattle and superintend
the milking. The men eat by themselves first, the women and children
waiting until they have finished. The women carry the water, prepare the
"lisu," or fuel, and do all the household work before going to help in
the "land." The "lisu" is made from the manure in the cattle, sheep, and
goat kraals. It is dug out and dried in the sun. When dry it somewhat
resembles peat. It burns easily and gives out considerable heat, nothing
but a fine white ash remaining.

The resources of the country at present are chiefly agricultural, large
quantities of mealies and Kaffir corn being exported annually by the
traders, also considerable quantities of wool, and during the outbreak
of rinderpest numbers of hides passed into the traders' hands. The only
means of transport is, of course, by waggon to the nearest railway
station in the Orange River Colony, or to Aliwal North.

Near Mohali's Hoek a coalmine was opened some years ago, and very good
coal obtained, but the present chief of the district will not allow it
to be worked any longer, and I believe the mine is now nearly full of
water. The country is certainly rich in minerals, and no doubt would
yield large returns were it properly worked, but that is impossible
under the existing conditions. Nor would it be desirable to alter those
conditions at present. It is purely a native territory, the only white
people allowed to settle in the country, not including the Government
officials and their families, being the missionaries and traders, and at
each Government station one or two European artisans. No liquor is
allowed into the country without a permit issued and signed by the
Assistant Commissioner of the district, who uses his own discretion in
the matter. There are no canteens, consequently the number of inebriates
is wonderfully small, and much of the degradation and misery of
drunkenness is unknown. Would it be wise, merely for the sake of gain,
to change this state by throwing the country open to the outside world?
A thousand times _No_.

The principal articles imported into the country are blankets, cheap
prints, beads, saddlery, showy ornaments, ploughs, kettles, three-legged
pots, and tin dishes. There is also a great demand for sugar, salt, tea
and coffee, and of course the wealthier Basuto indulge in such luxuries
as sardines, jam, sweets, &c.

Every Mosuto rides, even if he has only a very short distance to go. To
walk must either show great poverty (a terrible disgrace in a country
where no one need be really poor), or a great lack of self-respect. The
ponies they ride are hardy, sure-footed little animals, wonderfully
easily broken in, and showing quite remarkable intelligence. As a rule
they are very good-tempered. To see them coming down the steep hillsides
at a hard gallop, urged on by their reckless riders, who seem to have no
fear, simply takes one's breath away at first, yet one never sees them
stumble, much less fall, and they seem quite to enjoy it. Many of the
Basuto now ride on saddles, but even thus they ride entirely by balance,
and their idea of getting the pony to "go" is by kicking him vigorously
in the sides.

The women of course ride "astride," but are timid and ill at ease, only
adopting this mode of travelling when the time is short and the way
long.

The boys begin at a very early age, learning first on goats and calves,
going on to young oxen, and ending up with horses. An ox race is really
a most exciting spectacle, and many a tumble these fearless young riders
get.

The oxen are trained to carry the bags of grain, which are balanced
across their backs. Their noses are pierced, and a rope or reim run
through the hole and fastened together to act as reins. In this way the
boys are able to control the animals.

They guide them by hitting the horns on the opposite side from the
direction in which they wish them to go. A Basutoland ox is seldom
cross, and rarely kicks, very different from the vicious animals I saw
in the Colony when I first came out. As a Mosuto's chief wealth lies in
the number of cattle he possesses, he naturally takes a great interest
in them, and acts of cruelty towards them are rare.

Almost all the heathen males possess at least two or three wives, and
the families as a rule are large, most women having an average of from
six to eight children.

The women are merely servants, little (if any) better than slaves, with
few rights or privileges of their own, and utterly at the mercy of their
husbands, who beat or pet them as so disposed.

Each wife has her own hut, her own "land," and her own children to look
after, besides attending to the wants of her lord and master. The
husband does the sowing and ploughing, but the woman does the weeding,
watering, when necessary, and in fact, generally looks after her land,
for the success or failure of which she is alone responsible.

Those who can afford to bribe with the offers of leting, jouala and
other dainties, summon as many of their friends as desired to help in
the work of sowing and reaping. The chiefs call all the able-bodied
young men and women of their "Clan," and much work and not a little
merriment is crowded into the day, frequent refreshments being served
out to the workers. This combining of forces is called a "letsima," and
a very noisy affair it is. The men all come armed with hoes, and of
course mounted on their active little ponies. A truly alarming sight
they are at a little distance to the stranger, until, on a nearer
approach, he sees they are not armed with weapons of war, but with
implements of peace. Sometimes as many as eight or nine hundred may be
seen in an afternoon, in more or less regular order, wending their way
to the village of their chief, ready to begin work on the morrow.

In the morning they set out for the "lands," singing as they go. When
they work, the men form in line and keep time with their hoes, or (if in
autumn) their reaping hooks, to the chant they sing, while behind come
the women, adding their shrill trebles to the men's deeper notes. It is
all very wild, but wonderfully picturesque, and so perfectly in keeping
with the surrounding scenery.

One cannot help envying the contentment and goodwill shown by all. Even
the children have their share of the fun and feasting.

The maternal instinct is very strong in the Basuto women, who devote
themselves to each baby as it comes, with perfect good temper and
constant care. As a rule baby number one attains to two or even three
years before the arrival of baby number two, and so on.

Naturally, from a commercial point of view, the female children are much
preferred to the male, for does not a daughter upon reaching womanhood
represent a dowry of so many head of cattle to her father? while each
son, should he live to manhood, means the loss of so many cherished
bovine friends. But in childhood male and female children are all
treated alike, all receive their due amount of affection and are equally
dear to their parents' hearts, except in instances where the baby
happens to be born after the death of the former baby. It is a terrible
breach of etiquette to welcome this poor little stranger, besides being
an insult to the departed infant, whose spirit would naturally resent
anything which might indicate that the new-comer had consoled the
parents for their loss.

No, the new arrival must be treated as an unwelcome intruder. All signs
of affection (before others) must be suppressed.

It is called "Mose la'ntja," which means "the dog's tail," a term of the
greatest contempt. No festivities greet its birth; no fat is smeared on
its poor little body, nor is it correct for the friends and neighbours
to interest themselves about it. To add to this, the parents pretend to
be angry with the little intruder for coming to fill the dead child's
place.

Anything is good enough for "Mose la'ntja," all the old clothes fall to
his or her share; if he or she is dirty and unkempt, so much the better.
The more uncared-for their appearance the better their parents and
relatives are pleased. It is the correct thing, quite a matter of
etiquette, and these poor mites accept it all with perfect resignation,
nor does it in any way affect their health or spirits.

This semi-persecution continues until "Mose la'ntja" has reached "years
of discretion"--that is to say, after he or she has passed through the
heathen "schools," when he becomes exempt from all restrictions.

As a rule all Basuto babies have their heads shaved when about two days
old, with the exception of "Mose la'ntja," who is not allowed this
privilege unless by the "family doctor's" orders.

In the old days the Basuto never in any way recognised Sunday, or had
any regular religious observances; one day was just the same as another
to them, except that it happened to be the first, second or third day of
that particular "moon." They had no week-days such as we have, their
manner of counting being simply the days of the lunar month; but like
us they observed four seasons of the year, answering to ours, namely
Spring--Selemo (or delving time); Summer--Letlabula (or "It is opening,"
meaning vegetable life); Autumn--Hogobajua (or the fading or changing
time); and Winter--Marea (or the time of heaviness).

Each calendar month has been given a suitable name, as follows:--

January, Pherekhong (to increase, to swell).

February, Thlakhola (to mature, because the grain is nearly ripe).

March, Thlakhobeli (maturity or harvest time).

April, Mbesa (the burning, because fires are now lighted in the lands to
scare away the birds, it being no longer considered necessary to employ
boys to keep away the winged thieves).

May, Motsey-anong (to complete, to become mature).

June, Phupo (to heap up, to store).

July, Phup'chane (to thrash).

August, Phato (to break up, to delve).

September, Loetsé (to water the land, _i.e._, rain time).

October, 'Mpalane (the coming of storms).

November, Phulunguana (the seed is coming).

December, Tsitue (the name of the small beetle which during that month
disturbs the whole of South Africa with its clamour).

These are as nearly correct as I can get them, but the people seem
strangely vague about such things as dates, times, and seasons.

Very few of them can tell you their age, or even the ages of their
children. They count from certain national events which have made deep
impressions upon their minds, such as the "Gun War," the great plague of
locusts, the death of a certain chief, &c., &c.

Their mode of counting is quaint. They use the fingers of each hand,
beginning with the little finger of the left hand, which is held in an
upright position, the back of the hand facing the person counting, the
palm turned outwards. Thus, when they wish to signify one, they raise
one finger; for two, they raise two fingers, and so on, keeping the
other fingers down on the palm.

Translated literally their numerals are:--


     1 'Ngue.

     2 Peli (pronounced pedi), two.

     3 Tharo, three.

     4 'Né (pronounced iu-né), four.

     5 Thlano, five.

     6 Tselela (crossing, meaning the act of crossing from one hand to
     the other).

     7 Supile (pointing, because the first finger of the right hand,
     which is generally used for pointing at objects, is raised).

     8 Robile Monuana 'mbeli (two broken fingers, because only two
     fingers remain down).

     9 Robile Monuana u le Mong (one broken finger, only one
     remaining down).

     10 Leshume (the whole).

     11 Leshume le metso u le Mong (the whole and one root); and so on
     up to twenty, which is--

     20 Mashomé a Mabeli (two tens or wholes).

     30 being Mashomé a Meraro (three tens); and so on up to one
     hundred, which is--

     100 Le kholo (the big thing).

     1000 Seketé.


The hours of the day were naturally quite unknown to them, the sun, moon
and stars, light and darkness, being their only guides; for instance,
sunrise, midday, afternoon sunset, and night time being the terms used
to represent the various periods into which their day was divided.

They possess few customs which might be strictly termed religious, most
of their beliefs being superstitions connected with the spirits of their
forefathers, to whom they pray in times of trouble, and of whom they
stand in great awe, offering sacrifices from time to time, with the view
of assuaging their wrath; but acts of praise or actual devotion were
unknown until the introduction of Christianity.

They have a few musical instruments, all very similar in appearance at
first sight, but each varying a good deal with regard to the sounds
produced. The simplest is the "Setolotolo," which is made by boring a
hole in each end of a thick stick, into which are fixed two small pieces
of cane, a piece about three inches long at the top, and one nearly
double that length at the bottom. These are bent over and drawn towards
each other by a thin wire or the twisted hairs from a horse's tail. The
mouth of the musician is laid to the stick near the top, his left hand
holds it near the bottom, while with the first finger and thumb of his
right hand he touches the string at various distances from each end, at
the same time making a peculiar little note in his own throat. The whole
performance is weird and doleful in the extreme.

The "Seho," the "Lesiba," and in fact all the other musical instruments
produce sounds the reverse of lively, but they are by no means harsh or
unpleasing to the ear, and, heard in their native element, with the wild
and picturesque surroundings of a Basuto village, or when played by the
herds, leading (for cattle are never driven) the cattle to or from
pasture, they certainly impress one favourably. The drum, on the other
hand, is a thing to be shunned. It is made of bladder stretched over an
earthenware pot which has had the bottom knocked out, to render the
sound more hollow. It is placed on two stones and played, not with two
small (or one large) drum sticks as in civilized countries, but with the
hands. A booming, melancholy howl, like a creature in torment, is the
result at a distance. These drums are only used in the spring-time, when
the girls are being called to the native "schools," and on the feast day
which terminates the "school" for that year, usually a period of from
four to six months, according to the amount of food and the number of
girls in each "school." In November every year, night after night, the
stillness is broken by these hideous drums. The girls' schools are
conducted by old hags, who are supposed to be learned in all witchcraft,
and to possess the "evil eye." These women profess to teach the girls to
grind, weed, smear, cook, and, in fact, all household duties, in
addition to many other instructions in "medicines," folk-lore, and some
very barbarous practices, of which it is impossible to write.

A fortnight after the girls join the old women, they (the girls) smear
themselves from head to foot with white clay, and wear a screen of small
reeds in front of their faces. This has to be continued until their
education is completed. During the whole period they never return home,
but spend their time in the "lands" and kloofs. They sleep during the
day and remain awake all night. When they walk they carry long
"doctored" sticks, which have the power of killing any outsider who
dares to touch them. Many acts of cruelty and revenge are practised by
these revolting old women under the guise of teaching the girls to be
brave, or in some cases to be in their turn "wise women." Frequently a
girl never returns to her home again. No questions dare be asked for
fear of the "evil eye," but it is a recognised fact that she has been
murdered, either because the wise woman has a spite against one or other
of her parents, or against the girl herself; though, were such a thing
even hinted at, dire would be the result. To the girls in the school it
is stated that Molimo, or God, has said So-and-so must be sacrificed for
the good of the others, or to make them brave or wise, or to save them
or their families from destruction.

When the four or six months are over, a big feast is prepared in the
village nearest the "school," to which both sexes come. Merry-making,
eating and drinking continue for twenty-four hours. The girls then
return home--"women"--with all the duties and privileges of womanhood.
For a month they have to behave with great reserve to all around them,
leaving home early in the morning and remaining away until dark. This
closes that epoch in their lives.

The boys from sixteen years and upwards assemble at the villages also
in November, and are taken off to school by the old witch doctors, who
train them in all acts of cruelty and bravery. Some of the acts
committed by them are too horrible to bear repeating. They begin by
torturing and killing animals, and then do the same thing to human
beings. They are also instructed in the use of herbs and various
medicines, and also in the methods of warfare adopted by the Basuto, as
well as a considerable knowledge of natural history.

Of course, both the Government and the missionaries keep a strong check
upon these schools and all barbarous customs, and the country is in a
very much more enlightened state than it was even when I first came to
it. The people are not naturally cruel, and are quick to see how
Englishmen look upon acts of brutality. They also know that certain
punishment awaits the perpetrators should they be discovered.

The Basuto women indulge in no amusements beyond the dance, singing, and
gossip. The men play a game called "Morabaraba," a species of
draughts played with white and black stones on a large flat stone cut
into squares like a chessboard.



CHAPTER IV.

CHIEF WARS--MOROSI--DEATH OF MOLAPO--INFLUENCE OF THE
MISSIONARIES--COLONEL GRIFFETH--GENERAL GORDON--1843 TO PRESENT
TIME--GOVERNMENT HUT TAX--MISSION SOCIETIES.


The chief wars, apart from tribal disturbances, in which the Basuto have
been engaged, are the Basuto-Dutch War, 1863-1868; the Morosi Campaign
in 1879; and the Gun War in 1880-1881.

The Basuto-Dutch War of 1863 to 1868 was caused by the long-continued
plundering of the Basuto all along the border. At that time Mosheshue
was growing old, his people were half-starving savages, with large bands
of cannibals among them.

The Orange Free State was rich in grain and in flocks and herds; the
Mosuto is always at heart a cattle thief; he knows no temptation so
great as that of "cattle lifting." No wonder, then, that, with the added
force of starvation and their hatred of the Boers, the Basuto took to
plundering those homesteads near the border.

In addition to this, the young "braves" thought they were too strong
even for the English power to subdue--the result of the retreat of Sir
George Cathcart in 1852, which they looked upon as a sign of weakness
on our part, and they received no check from Mosheshue, who seems to
have allowed his people a free hand. Undoubtedly they had great cause to
hate the Boers for the many wrongs received from them, and to this day
there is no love lost between Boer and Basuto. But we will enter into
this subject later on.

The eventual result of these devastations was war, which raged for five
years between the two nations. At first the Basuto were everywhere
victorious; hunger was no longer known in their midst, and they became
boastful, vain-glorious, and altogether over-confident. Then came the
Boers' turn. Their commandos entered the Lesuto, which they conquered
bit by bit, until the whole country of the northern part, from what is
now called Winburg to Thaba Bosigo, was in their hands. This strong
fortress had resisted all attempts to conquer it; but the Basuto were
thoroughly frightened, and Mosheshue, dreading to fall into the hands of
the Dutch, earnestly entreated the Governor of Cape Colony (Sir Philip
Wodehouse) to protect them. Accordingly, the Lesuto was proclaimed
British territory under the Colonial Government, and the Dutch were
requested to return to the Free State. Soon afterwards the Governor went
to Thaba Bosigo, when he laid down, with President Brand, the boundary
of what is now the Lesuto, and which deprived the Basuto of that fertile
tract of country, west of the Caledon River, which has since been called
the conquered territory. Colonel Griffeth was appointed Commissioner,
and the country became subject to British rule in 1869.

In 1879, Dodo Morosi's son, who had been imprisoned in Quthing prior to
his removal to the Colony, escaped from prison, and joined Morosi on his
famous mountain near Quthing. These two chiefs had always been rebels at
heart, and only needed a little encouragement to become so openly. At
that time Cetewayo was doing his utmost to stir up the Basuto, urging
them to join him against the British Government. The Basuto have always
looked upon the Zulu chief as, in a way, their head, to whom they owed a
certain amount of obedience, and to whom they paid tribute of karosses,
ostrich feathers, etc. Consequently, when the disaster of Isandhlala
became known in the Lesuto, the people became almost ungovernable with
excitement. Colonel Griffeth formed a camp at Pathlahla Drift, where he
was joined by several of his staff, and by 400 Colonial troops,
augmented by 1,200 loyal Basuto. Mr. Barkly, the magistrate of Mohali's
Hoek, was appointed Staff Officer to Colonel Griffeth during the siege
of Morosi Mountain, while Colonel (now General) Brabant, with 150 men,
was sent up early in April to aid the besiegers.

Morosi was a Baputi Chief under the rule of the Paramount Chief. At this
time he was an old man, almost completely under the influence of his son
Dodo, a crafty, rebellious, and cruel man, who had been imprisoned and
heavily fined by Mr. Austin, magistrate of Quthing, but had, as I have
already stated, made his escape. Morosi now openly rebelled, whereupon
the Colonial Government, through Colonel Griffeth, ordered the Basuto to
enforce obedience. Thus, in April, the attack began, but many of the
Basuto, though not themselves in open rebellion, refused to take up arms
against their "brother." Consequently, there was not a sufficiently
strong attacking force, and the first attempt was a complete failure,
resulting in a loss of about fifty killed and wounded on our side. The
mountain is very steep, and the whole face was protected by schanzes, or
stone walls; stones also were hurled by the besieged upon their foes as
they endeavoured to scale the mountain. Our force had a couple of field
guns, which were of considerable service. The attack lasted from 5 A.M.
till 8 P.M., during which time the besiegers were entirely without food.
I am indebted to one who was a member of the C.M.R. present at the siege
for the above information. The "Colonies and India," of June 1879,
says:--"After the failure of the attempt to storm the enemy's position,
and while awaiting the arrival of heavier cannon, the investment of the
mountain still continued, pickets being posted day and night round three
sides of it, the fourth being a perpendicular krantz of many feet in
height.

"Notwithstanding all the vigilance and precautions taken, one of the
pickets, consisting of a troop of the 3rd Yeomanry, were surprised on
the night of the 29th instant. About two hundred of the enemy rushed
into their camp, overpowering the sentries and assegaing some of the men
in their tents. The Yeomanry, after six hours' fighting, beat them off,
but not without sustaining a loss of six killed and fifteen wounded.

"There is but one path leading to the summit of the mountain, which is
fortified by strongly-built stone walls, arranged with great skill, so
that the lower ones are commanded and can be enfiladed by those above
them. They are pierced by double rows of loopholes, and, in most cases,
are situated on the verge of steep rocks, which render them almost
inaccessible from below. The mountain was crowded with every kind of
stock, and defended by several hundred Baphuti rebels under Morosi."

The siege dragged on until November of the same year (every effort to
storm the mountain failing), when the enemy were starved into a
surrender. Morosi and two of his sons were killed, and the others
surrendered as soon as the C.M.R., who were the first to scale the
ladders, had entered the stronghold with fixed bayonets, with which they
attacked the starving garrison. Dodo, however, unfortunately escaped,
but the greater number of the enemy were killed.

In September, previous to this event, Sir Gordon Sprigg (the then
Premier of the Cape Colony) visited the Lesuto in connection with the
Disarmament Act, which had just been passed by the Colonial Government,
and a great Pitso was held at Maseru on the 16th of October (1879) to
inform the Basuto that the Act was to be extended to the Lesuto. It was
a most unfortunate time to select for the enforcement of such a law. The
Basuto love their guns, and no amount of compensation would repay them
for the loss of their firearms. In addition, the whole nation was
unsettled, first by the Zulu Campaign, and afterwards by the fighting at
Morosi's Mountain. They only needed tangible excuse to break out into
open rebellion. That excuse the Government placed before them when it
insisted upon the disarming of the whole nation. Chiefs and people alike
were furious, and, though no immediate steps were taken by the
Government, the whole country seemed on the brink of a volcano.

Early in 1880 a commission was appointed for each district, consisting
of the magistrate, the principal chief of the district and the most
influential trader. A fair and just value was to be given to each man
upon delivering up his weapon or weapons. The Colonial Government
completely ignored the fact that it was to blame in the first instance
for the number of guns in the country, and that it had employed the
Basuto to fight for it; in fact, was actually doing so at the time when
the Act was passed, when it employed Basuto to aid in the siege of
Morosi's Mountain. A deputation of chiefs was sent to Cape Town, but
their petition was refused. Even the majority of the missionaries
regarded the policy of the Colonial Government as an act of unnecessary
oppression, and many of them did not hesitate to say so openly.

On the 28th of June the wise old chief Molapo died in the north of
Basutoland, and his death no doubt hastened matters, for, had he lived,
he would have used all his influence, which was considerable, on the
side of the Government. His sons Joel and Jonathan succeeded him, but
Joel was always strongly against the Government, and Jonathan was a
young man without much power over the other chiefs. The French
Protestant missionaries, though earnestly exhorting the people to
refrain from bloodshed, were known by the Basuto to sympathise with
them; consequently, their persons, homes, and mission stations were
untouched during the rebellion which followed. The Roman Catholic
Missions, which also belonged to the French, likewise remained
unmolested, but the English missionaries and their stations fared badly
indeed. The one at Mohale's Hoek was utterly destroyed. At Sekubu in the
north everything perishable was burnt, the stone buildings alone
remaining standing, and the mission buildings at Thlotse fared hardly
better, the church to this day (though no longer used as such, having
been replaced by a much larger building) bearing many marks of the
conflict. The Government fixed upon the 12th of July as the day for the
final disarmament of the people. Many loyalists sent in their arms, a
course of action which resulted in many real hardships for them, and to
this day the greater number have never received more than two-thirds (if
that) of the compensation owed them by the Government, though many
rebels received full compensation. Chief Jonathan remained loyal
throughout, and, by his firmness, kept together a large following, who
were of the greatest possible assistance to Major Bell, the magistrate
of Leribe.

Canon Widdicombe gives a most interesting and graphic account of the
fighting in the north in his book, "Fourteen Years in Basutoland." The
actual fighting began on the 19th of July near the centre of the
Lesuto, and soon rebellion became general throughout the country. In
September a few hundred C.M. Rifles were sent up to Southern Basutoland
by the Colonial Government, but nothing was done for the North. Mafeteng
in the south was first attacked on the 13th September; Lerotholi, with a
following of over 8,000 men, all mounted, opening the proceedings by a
vigorous attack upon the station. Fortunately the rebels were repulsed
with great loss. On October 4th the trading station of Lipering,
belonging to the Messrs. Fraser, was attacked and destroyed; Maseru and
Mohale's Hoek were attacked about the same time.

On the 19th October General Clarke, Commander-in-Chief of the Colonial
forces, succeeded in reaching and relieving Mafeteng, but with heavy
loss, the 1st Yeomanry alone losing 32 killed and 11 wounded. The former
lie buried in the little cemetery at Mafeteng, where a monument has been
erected to their memory. On November 8th the first attack was made upon
Thlotse in the north. It was sudden and very well planned, but
nevertheless it failed. Five thousand "braves" under Chief Joel made the
attack at daybreak, but most fortunately heavy rain had fallen, causing
the Thlotse River to become impassable, and thus preventing Ramanella
and his contingent from joining in the attack. The defending force was
only 140 strong. As soon as the river became fordable, Jonathan crossed
into Thlotse with nearly 2,000 loyal followers. What that poor little
garrison suffered can be but little imagined. Many acts of revolting
cruelty were perpetrated by the rebels; Jonathan's village was burnt to
the ground, and all his flocks and herds carried off, while he and his
small following took refuge in Thlotse, the whole country from there to
Maseru being by this time in the hands of the rebels. A force of nearly
300 of the Kimberley Horse, under Major Lawrance, was sent from Maseru
to the aid of the Thlotse garrison, and most effectively they fulfilled
their mission, driving off an enemy ten times their own size right
across the Thlotse River, almost into the mountains. This state of
affairs continued all through the country until the 17th of April, 1881,
when an armistice was made, followed by a treaty of peace, for the
unusually hard winter had at length proved the "last straw" to the
rebels, who, worn out with fighting and hardships, eventually realized
the futility of attempting to overcome the "White Man." Unfortunately,
the Colonial Government, in its anxiety to bring the war to an end, was
ready for peace at any price. A little firmness for a month or two
longer, and the Basuto would have been completely conquered. They were
in real distress for food, and were unfit to stand the hardships of the
winter months of June and July; but the Government apparently did not
see the matter in this light, and on April 29th the new Governor, Sir
Hercules Robinson, issued a proclamation which promised a fair indemnity
for their loss to the loyal Basuto, and was by no means severe upon the
rebels; but the promises were never properly fulfilled, and to this day
there is many a sore heart and shaken faith in the word of the English
to be found in Basutoland.

Colonel Griffeth pointed out the unwisdom of such conduct, but he was
granted a year's leave of absence, after which he was pensioned. It
would be a moral lesson to many were they to hear a Mosuto's opinion of
this act, though it is extremely galling to realise how British prestige
suffered for many months, morally and physically, and the marks of her
degradation will remain for ever. Oh! how can people wish to bring
civilization into a country, when it brings such suffering in its train!

In April, 1881, General Gordon had offered his services to the Colonial
Government, but it was not until September, 1882, that they availed
themselves of his offer. He then proceeded to Basutoland, where at any
rate he won the admiration and affection of all those Basuto who came in
contact with him. His stay in the country was short. Let my reader refer
to Sir W. Butler's Life of Gordon for the reason. Again the Government
had thrown away the chance of permanent settlement.

In 1883 came the war between Joel and Jonathan, the two great chiefs of
the North, which resulted in the overthrow of Joel, who with his
followers fled to the Free State. Captain Blyth, C.M.G., was at that
time "Governor's Agent" of Basutoland; but as he had only moral force
with which to govern the people, what could he do except report to Cape
Town all that had occurred? At length, in November, 1883, Basutoland was
taken over by the Imperial Government, and early in 1884, Sir Marshall
Clarke (Lt.-Col., R.A.) was sent as Resident Commissioner of Basutoland,
under the control of the High Commissioner.

From this time a more hopeful state of things ensued, though even to the
present time there are not infrequent inter-tribal wars, squabbles, and
jealousies to "keep the country from going to sleep."

Basutoland is a native territory under Imperial Government. In 1868, the
country was annexed to the British Empire, though in December, 1843
Mosheshue signed a treaty with England, in which the boundaries of his
country were defined as the Orange River, from its source to its
junction with the Caledon, and a line about thirty miles northeast of
the Caledon, from Bethulie to Sikonyela's country. This did not at all
meet with the approval of Mosheshue, and quietly he extended his sway,
while the British authorities were engaged in settling matters with Adam
Kok, the emigrant farmers, and various others. From 1847 to 1851 there
were constant "strained relations" between Mosheshue and the British
Government, ending in an alliance between him and the emigrant farmers.
England was then not in a position to enforce obedience from Mosheshue,
and his affairs were allowed to drift until such time as force could be
brought to bear to ensure his subjugation.

In the end of 1852, General Cathcart, with a force of 2,000 Infantry,
500 Cavalry, and two field guns, marched upon Basutoland, and sent a
message to Mosheshue asking him how he intended to behave, and demanding
the delivery of 10,000 head of cattle and 1,000 horses within a week.
Mosheshue endeavoured to comply with this demand, but the Basuto love
their cattle, and could not be induced to part with more than 4,000
head. They were also anxious to try their strength against the English,
and would not listen to their chief when he endeavoured to show them how
futile would be their efforts. The result was that on the 20th December,
the British forces advanced to attack, and it was upon that day that the
awful ride of a small body of Lancers down an almost precipitous ravine
took place. It happened thus. The cavalry were ordered to march to the
north of Berea Mountain, but seeing a great number of cattle apparently
unguarded on the top of the hill, they tried to secure them. Suddenly a
strong force under Molapo advanced, scattering cattle and foes in all
directions. Had it not been for the bravery of Colonel Napier, our loss
would have been very severe; but he, with the small party round him,
attacked the Basuto, thus giving many of our men a chance to escape. One
small body of Lancers mistook an almost precipitous ravine for the
bridle-path, and charged down it at a gallop; those who were not killed
in the descent rushing headlong into the midst of an armed force of
Basuto at the bottom. To this day the spot is called "Lancers' Gap," and
many Basuto tales are told of that ride to death of the brave
"Ma-Soldier" of the Great White Queen, or "Mofumahali" as they call her.
The Basuto fought well, and showed considerable bravery. They were
nearly all armed with guns or rifles, in addition to their native
weapons; but the coolness and bravery of our small force against such
vast numbers alarmed them, and Mosheshue pointed out that they could not
hope to overcome the strong reinforcements which would follow. After a
hurried counsel the Basuto fled during the night to the most
inaccessible mountains; and thus, after two days' hard fighting, ended
the advance of the British troops.

Mosheshue wrote a most diplomatic letter to General Cathcart, on the
advice of the French Missionary M. Casalis, saying he had seen the power
of the English; he had been corrected; he now desired peace, and would
never again become an enemy to the Queen. The General accepted the
apology, and retired across the Caledon.

Into the advisability, or otherwise, of this step I prefer not to enter.
Theal, in his "History of the Boers in South Africa," enters fully into
the subject, and gives a very good account of the after effects of
General Cathcart's step, as also the General's reasons for taking it.

Basutoland was taken over by the Colonial Government in 1870, the "Gun
War" following in 1871, in consequence of the Colonial Government
endeavouring to enforce the Disarmament Act. After the conclusion of the
second "Gun War" (1880-1882), Basutoland reverted to Imperial rule. It
is directly under the control of the Resident Commissioner, who lives at
Maseru, and has under him seven Assistant Commissioners, one in each
district, a Government Secretary at headquarters, and a dozen
Sub-Inspectors in charge of the different detachments of native police,
stationed in each district. Each detachment has also one or two
European constables, according to the number of police and the size of
the district.

The Resident Commissioner has a difficult position to fill. He is
responsible to the High Commissioner on the one hand, and has to win the
confidence and favour, not only of the Paramount Chief, but of the whole
nation on the other, and to maintain the prestige of British supremacy
without going too closely into purely native matters. The chiefs have
considerable power up to a certain point, but are answerable to the
Paramount Chief first, and through him to the Resident Commissioner, for
the exercise of that power. They hold courts for the settlement of all
native matters, save those of grave importance, which are dealt with by
the Assistant Commissioners. Natives are always allowed to appeal to the
Assistant Commissioner of their district against the decision of their
own court or "Khotla," but no appeal is possible to even the Paramount
Chief against the decision of the Government. In murder cases, and
others of equally grave importance, two Assistant Commissioners must
"sit in judgment." All sentences are referred to the Resident
Commissioner for confirmation. All "liquor" cases are brought to the
Assistant Commissioner of the district. The police patrol the country,
and bring in cases for trial, and report any suspicious events. There
are post offices at all the Government stations, under the supervision
of the Assistant Commissioners, and most of the stations are now
possessed of telegraphic communication. There is also a medical service,
consisting of the Principal Medical Officer, resident at Maseru, and a
Medical Officer at most of the stations, with a staff of native
dispensers. Medical attendance is free to all officials and their
families, and to the police; and also to the whole nation between the
hours of ten to twelve daily, at the dispensary, a nominal fee of
sixpence being charged by the Government to cover the cost of the
medicine received.

The revenue is considerable, and is chiefly derived from the hut tax.
This is a tax levied on each wife in reality, though it is nominally on
the hut. It used to be 10s. for each hut, but has now been raised to £1
each. A man having two wives pays £2, though he may have three or more
huts, and so on.

The expenditure consists of the salaries of all Government officials,
including natives, cost of maintaining the roads, educational grants,
and building and repairing of Government buildings, with various other
minor expenses connected with the administration, pensions, &c. The work
of education is a heavy item, there being over 100 schools. The
Missionary Societies are the Paris Evangelical, the Anglican and the
Roman Catholic. I have placed them in the order in which they stand.
The French missionaries were the first to visit Basutoland, and are a
big majority. They have done much for the Basuto, apart from religious
instruction and example, for in the early days of their arrival they
taught the people the use of many cereals and plants, of which, till
then, they were ignorant, and also how to build, to plough, and reap,
and the European methods of irrigation, as well as introducing into the
country various domestic animals, such as the pig, the cat, and a dog,
superior to the miserable specimens already to be found in the villages.
Fowls, turkeys, ducks, and geese were also first introduced by the
missionaries.

There are now several industrial schools in different parts of the
country, in which the boys are taught masonry, carpentry, blacksmith's
and painter's trades, besides the three "R's." Many of these boys show
considerable ability, and are painstaking and neat in their work, taking
a real pride in it.

At Morija, the largest mission station in Basutoland, as well as the
first, it having been founded by MM. Casalis, Arbousset, and Gossellin
in 1833, not only are there four missionaries employed, but quite a
large number of assistant teachers and instructors of various branches
of education. There is the Bible School, which trains natives for
missionary work; the Normal School for teachers; a printing and
publishing establishment, where Sesuto books, pamphlets, and a monthly
newspaper are published, and in which all the work is done by natives,
under European supervision. Then there is the Mission School, in which
the children are taught. Twice Morija was nearly destroyed, in the Boer
invasions in 1858, and again in 1865, but nevertheless it is now a
flourishing station, nestling in a hollow at the foot of the mountains.
Here also are to be found on some of the rocks the footprints of an
enormous lizard, and traces of the haunts of lions and other beasts of
prey.



CHAPTER V.

THABA BOSIGO--CANNIBALS--THEIR MANNER OF CAPTURING AND DESTROYING THEIR
VICTIMS--SUPERSTITIONS--LAND TENURE.


Near Morija rises _the_ mountain of Basutoland, Thaba Bosigo! Surely no
other spot in the country contains so much history as this small
mountain, where Mosheshue first took his stand, and where he and all the
principal chiefs of the past now lie buried.

Thaba Bosigo rises abruptly from the plain around it. The sides are very
steep, and in many parts precipitous, especially near the top. There are
narrow zig-zag paths by which the people ascend and descend, but of
these there are not more than half a dozen, and when Mosheshue lived
there they were all strongly fortified, so that the mountain was
practically impregnable. The remains of the fortifications are still to
be seen. The top of the mountain is peculiar, a great part of it being
covered with waves of sand; but there is plenty of pasture and a good
water supply.

Before and during the time of Mosheshue many of the Basuto were
cannibals, but it is supposed they originally became so from
starvation, rather than from choice. Some years ago there lived at
Thlotsi an old woman, who in her girlhood had a wonderful escape from a
band of cannibals. She was fat and young, a truly tempting object, and
she was all alone, walking to the "lands" from her home. They seized and
bound her, and carried her off to their lair. Here they amputated both
little fingers, and removed her upper lip; then placing her in the pot
of warm water they left her to bleed to death while they went to collect
firewood; but she happening to be a particularly robust, determined
damsel, removed herself during their absence, and managed to gain her
home, where her wounds were attended to, and she rapidly recovered. Many
years afterwards, as she was preparing the porridge for breakfast,
outside her hut, two old men came up and asked for food. She looked up,
recognised them as two of her former captors and--gave them breakfast.
The spot where she was caught was the death trap of many a poor victim,
and now it is believed to be haunted. Strange tales have been told by
people who have tried to pass there at night. Shadowy forms have been
seen seated in a ring, chanting weird songs, while from the centre of
the ring have issued smoke, and the cries and groans of the victims. A
horseman, too, has been seen to ride up in haste, though no sound of
hoofs has disturbed the night; but on his approach the ghostly company
has dispersed. I know of one or two other spots visited in the same way
by "ghosts," which are known to have been the abodes of cannibals. In
the north of Basutoland there still live two old people, a man and a
woman, no connection or relationship exists between them, but each has
been in youth a cannibal, and in the eyes of the Basuto they are each
branded with the evidence of their crimes, for each has white spots on
the skin, which are gradually increasing in size--a sure sign, according
to Basuto superstition, of cannibalism, as these spots were not there in
childhood, not even in middle age. Very few Basuto have been known to
bear this "hall mark." It is very peculiar, generally beginning as a
small round white mark, not as big as a marble, under the arm, which
increases in size and is joined by others, until it is supposed to
resemble a hand (a very clumsy one, certainly).

The Basuto are the people of the crocodile (Kuena), or as it is in
Sesuto, "Bakuena," the crocodile being their sacred animal. They believe
that one crocodile still exists in the Caledon, but I have never met any
one who had seen it. Still they cling to this belief, for what would
Basutoland be without its Kuena? There is no need to see it, it is
there. It will not desert its people, so why should they disturb it? Are
not the chiefs its especial people? and they are not influenced by idle
curiosity to prove its actual existence.

At one time, no doubt, there were crocodiles in the larger rivers, as
there were lions and tigers in the mountains--in fact, the country
abounded with wild animals; but at the present day, save for a few
elands, and buck of various sorts, there are none, unless one includes
baboons and an occasional silver jackal, and rarer still, a "tiger" as
it is called, which I believe is in reality a leopard.

Some sort of belief in the transmigration of souls is evidently indulged
in by the Basuto, for they will tell you quite solemnly that such and
such a snake is the spirit of So-and-so's grandfather, and that the
spirit of another ancestor has revisited the earth in the form of a dog
or baboon. They firmly believe in the efficacy of charms, or certain
portions of an animal or human being to ward off the evil spirits, or to
give courage or special strength, or again to endow with "second sight."
The charms are worn on the body; the portions of flesh are burnt, then
ground to a fine powder, mixed with some vile concoctions by the
"medicine man," and drunk by those desirous of receiving the special
quality desired. In the old days much wealth could be made by the
medicine men out of the heart of a white man, the people believing that
to drink the medicine made from it would endow them with the courage
and mental abilities of "le khuoa" (the white man.)

The Basuto, like most native races in South Africa, are distinctly
conservative as regards their superstitions and laws, any changes in the
customs of their forefathers being looked upon with much suspicion and
strong disfavour as a rule. They still cling to their belief in
witchcraft, in "throwing the bones," in ghosts, in the evil
water-spirits, and in the "evil eye." Their traditions are handed down
from generation to generation by men who make it their business to
learn, even to the most minute detail, all the folk lore, history,
superstitions, and customs of their nation. They are an emotional
people, easily moved to tears or laughter, more like uncontrolled
children than men and women. They believe that their witch doctors can
find out anything, and can call down the lightning god's wrath upon any
individual, who will, unless he is able to propitiate promptly the
deity, be struck by lightning ere many days have passed. These witch
doctors are also rain-makers, and greatly in request in the dry seasons;
but they are extremely clever, and take pains to study the signs in the
heavens before committing themselves in any way. When they can be
persuaded into praying for rain, they seldom fail to bring it; thus the
belief in their superhuman powers is unbounded.

With regard to the land, it is all practically in the possession of the
Paramount Chief; but each householder has a right to as much as he can
cultivate, and each chief owns large tracts of country, subject, of
course, to the approval of the Paramount Chief, who has power to give or
take away as he deems desirable, though certain of the principal chiefs,
notably the sons of old Molapo, are too powerful for him to interfere
with, unless supported by the Government.

Pasture is free to all, but certain tracts of pasturage are marked off
by each chief as winter grazing, other as summer grazing, and cattle
found feeding on one or the other out of season are impounded until the
owner has been caught and reprimanded or fined, according to the
enormity of his offence.

There are no rates nor land taxes, neither can the land be sold; but the
people give a certain amount of help to their chief in the cultivation
of his land, and the Paramount Chief has power to summon the whole
population to his aid, did he desire to do so.

The chief conducts all his legal affairs at the entrance of the
"Khotla," or court-house, a large, empty hut situated in the centre of
the village, with a big open space in front, where the people assemble
to hear and to give evidence. In the doorway, on a mat or kaross, the
chief sits, with his head-man beside him, while on either hand are
seated his councillors. No women are ever allowed to be present. Any one
can have a hearing, no matter how trivial his evidence or grievance may
be, and in any serious offence the longer the list of witnesses the
better every one is pleased. It is no unusual thing for a trial to last
several days, and the interest is as keen at the end as at the
commencement.

When a chief dies he is succeeded by the eldest son of his principal
wife. Should she have no sons, then the eldest son of the second wife
succeeds, unless for some exceptional reason a special son is chosen in
his father's lifetime and presented to the people as their future chief.
A woman rarely succeeds to the chieftainship.

Most of the European houses in Basutoland are built of brick, and are by
no means substantial; but there are some very good stone buildings, and
the country is certainly not lacking in suitable rock from which to
build. In some instances raw brick is used and plaistered inside and out
and afterwards whitewashed. Our first home at Mafeteng was a little
whitewashed thatched cottage, with mud floors and calico ceiling, the
calico merely being caught up and tacked here and there to a beam in the
roof. In the rainy season the water used to pour in at the back door
(the house was built on the slope of a hill), and if not promptly
directed into a more desirable course would speedily threaten to drive
us out of house and home. As a rule the houses are small, except those
of the Assistant Commissioners, and of course the Residency and
Government Secretary's houses at Maseru. One or two of the more wealthy
traders are now beginning to build better houses and shops; but when we
first entered the country, the majority of the buildings were very poor
specimens of the builder's art.

At Leribe there is a funny little fort built inside the prison enclosure
at the time of the "Gun War," and which stands sturdily facing all
weathers to the present day, though it is the roughest of workmanship.

Every spring the grass is burnt through the length and breath of
Basutoland, which makes it very rank and coarse, and what is called
"sour veldt." No wonder there are few wild flowers to be seen, save in
the kloofs of the mountains. There are not many ferns, but the
maidenhair grows in glorious profusion. The only wild fruits to be found
are a small, very inferior blackberry, the wild raspberry, and the dwarf
cape gooseberry.

The Basuto ponies are supposed to be descendants of some Shetland ponies
which were imported into the Eastern Province of Cape Colony about the
year 1840, and were soon after lost sight of in the Stormberg
Mountains, and are supposed to have wandered into Basutoland. Certainly
some of them are even now small enough to be "Shelties," and are not
unlike them in shape.



CHAPTER VI.

MARRIAGE CUSTOMS--DEATH CUSTOMS.


When a youth wishes to marry, he does not go to his father and ask for a
wife. Such a course would be most disrespectful, and altogether wanting
in etiquette. The young men before marriage are not supposed to make
requests, or to converse much with their elders. Their duties are
chiefly those of herds; the elder boys or youths looking after the
cattle, and the smaller boys guarding the sheep and calves. But to
return, when a youth wishes to marry, he gets up very early one morning
and takes out his father's cattle to the pasture without milking the
cows, and lets the calves run with their mothers and drink all the milk.
No notice of this is taken on his return, and the same course is pursued
by him for thirty days. All his companions leave him severely alone, and
nickname him "the silly one." On the thirtieth day his father says,
"Surely my son wants to get married." This remark is repeated to the
youth, and the next day the cattle return to their former habits and are
milked as usual, but on the first morning of their milking the youth
must do it unaided. All this milk is then poured into a pot and made
into butter. The butter is boiled and poured into a new pot, and kept
to anoint the prospective bridegroom's face. No questions are asked as
to whom the youth wishes to marry. His wishes are very secondary
considerations, and not to be weighed for a moment against those of his
father. If the wife selected by his father does not happen to be the
"lady of his heart," he is at liberty to choose a second wife for
himself, as soon as he can pay the dowry or persuade his father to pay
it for him, for when he is a married man, he is on an equality with his
father, and can consult him or ask for his help.

After the episode with the cattle, the youth's father will select a
girl, and go to talk over matters with her father. After they have
agreed as to the number of cattle required for the dowry, about a month
is allowed to elapse, at the end of which time the cattle are chosen (as
a rule, thirty head are required, but occasionally fifteen or twenty,
with a horse or a few sheep and goats thrown in, will suffice). The
bridegroom's father prepares a small feast, the mother makes a large
quantity of "leting" (mild beer), and all the friends and relations on
his side regale themselves. The bridegroom then takes out the remaining
cattle to pasture, while his father and male friends start off with the
dowry. Some little distance before they reach the bride's home two
cattle are chosen from the herd, a male and a female, to represent the
bridegroom's parents; these are driven at a gallop through the village
and into the kraal. This is supposed to represent the impatience of the
parents to welcome their new daughter. The other cattle are driven
leisurely along, the herds lustily singing the Basuto wedding song.
These cattle are also shut up in the kraal on their arrival. All the
relations and friends of the bride then seat themselves on one side of
the entrance to the kraal, while the bridegroom's procession sit on the
opposite side. For a short time dead silence prevails, until the bride's
father (who hitherto has not appeared) joins the party and greets the
strangers, after which every one is allowed to talk. The bull and heifer
are then driven out and commented upon after the usual manner, very
fulsome remarks and compliments being exchanged. No girls must be seen
anywhere about, and the bride must be shut up in her father's hut, and
the mother in another hut by herself.

After a few pleasantries the bride's father goes to tell his wife his
opinion of the cattle. He then calls for "Juala" (strong beer), the
first pot being given to the two men who drove in the bull and heifer.
After they have drunk as much as they can, they say--

"We are coming to borrow a cup of water for our son."

The bride's father asks--"How many cattle have you brought?"

They reply "Thirty," or whatever the number may be.

The cattle are then counted, and every one drinks again.

The bridegroom's companions now begin to dance, and all the girls of the
village must join in the dancing, with the exception of the bride and
three chosen companions. This is continued till dark, all the
bridegroom's procession sleeping in the bride's village for the night.
The next morning the bride's father chooses the fattest ox he possesses
and has it killed, thus showing the bargain is completed. Should there
be no ox killed, then the bridegroom's father knows there is some hitch,
either the dowry is not sufficient, or a more eligible suitor has come
forward. A little tact and patience is necessary to find this out, as no
direct questions may be asked. If it is merely a matter of dowry, a
bargain is made, and, upon the arrival of the extra cattle, the
proceedings continue. After the ox is killed, the dewlap is cut off and
divided into two strips, one of which is bound round the girl's wrist,
and the other sent to the bridegroom to be bound round his wrist. This
signifies that they are now bound to each other. The bridegroom's father
then sends for a big ox, which is killed, and the skin given to the
bride's mother. All that day there is feasting and merry-making. The
next day the bridegroom's procession returns home. For a period of from
one to three months from this time the bridegroom continues to herd his
father's cattle, and life goes on much as usual, except that the father
and mother set about preparing their son's future home. When the
necessary time has expired, the bride sets out for her husband's home,
accompanied by two girl companions and two old women. On leaving her
father's house she must not say good-bye to her parents, nor must she
speak or look back until she reaches her husband. To look back or bid
farewell would show regret, and be an insult to her lord. Silence is
enjoined, because her first word must be her greeting to him. As a rule
several of her girl friends accompany her part of the way, laughing and
singing, and doing all in their power to make her either speak or look
back. While they are yet some little distance from the bridegroom's
village, they come to a standstill, the old women obstinately refusing
to go any farther until some suitable gift is presented to them. The
watchers at the village, who have seen all this byplay, and quite
understand what it means, hasten to tell the bridegroom's father, who at
once sends out either some wearing apparel, an ox, or young animal. As
soon as the sun sets, the bride enters the village, being conducted
straight to the bridegroom's house. She and her four companions must
remain perfectly silent, nor must they accept any refreshment from the
bridegroom's mother until his father has killed and roasted a sheep and
offered a portion of it to them to eat. The girl must be kept at her
mother-in-law's hut for the night, and remain perfectly silent. A number
of wedding guests now assemble, and feasting and singing continue all
night. In the morning the bride's friends return to their homes.

For the next month the bride is instructed in all household work by her
mother-in-law, and carries all the water from the well for the use of
the household. While going to fetch water she must neither turn her head
nor speak, no matter who may accost her. While in the "skerm," or even
in the hut, she is allowed to converse in low tones with any one who
comes in, but her voice must not be raised either in anger or laughter.
All this time remarks are freely made in her hearing as to her
attractions or lack of such, and very outspoken are those remarks.

Meanwhile, the bridegroom endeavours by every means in his power to see
and speak to his bride, but on no account must others see him near the
hut, and his mother keeps watch more or less strictly, as she happens to
be more or less favourably disposed towards his bride. The consequence
is that the bridegroom creeps round the hut whenever he gets away from
observation, and, should he be fortunate enough to find his bride alone
in the "skerm," he crawls in and talks to her in low tones while she is
grinding, for, upon seeing him enter in that manner, she knows he is her
husband, and instantly begins grinding. Should any one be heard
approaching the hut, the bridegroom will at once disappear. When the
month of probation is ended, the bride is conducted to her own hut, and
freed from all restrictions.

It is the custom of the wife, some few months afterwards, to take her
pitcher to the well, break it, and leave the broken pieces where they
will be seen, and run away to her own parents, without giving any one a
hint as to her intentions. Her mother will at once make her a new
pitcher. When it is ready she and her friends will set out for her own
home, laden with pots of "leting," and in some cases driving an ox
before them. Her return is the signal for renewed feasting and
merrymaking.

Of course, now that the missionaries have introduced European marriage
customs, a great many of these native rites and ceremonies are done away
with, a Christian native's marriage being conducted on the same lines
and subject to the same rules as a white man's, the bride even adorning
herself with cheap (in quality, but not in price) white finery, with
the orthodox wreath and veil, in which, poor creature, did she but know
it, she looks extremely ridiculous. She is attended by bridesmaids, all
decked out in bright colours, and the bridegroom and best man are
resplendent in brand-new suits, white dress shirts, and upright collars,
with gorgeous ties.

A Mosuto has no objection to marriage with a blood relation, provided
she will prove a desirable connection, and it is the custom for the
chiefs to inherit their fathers' wives as well as his other possessions.
These wives, as a rule, each chief distributes amongst his councillors
and favourites, but their children are always called his, thus giving
him a considerable source of wealth, as the sons work for him, and the
daughters bring him large dowries of cattle. Fidelity, either from the
husband or wife, is a virtue rarely to be found amongst the heathen, but
its absence creates no trouble as long as it is not discovered. If a man
ill-uses his wife to any great extent, she can return to her father; the
marriage is then annulled, and her father is entitled to retain both her
and the cattle paid by the ex-husband for her at the time of the
marriage.

In cases where a chief wishes to retain the services of a man, he will
bestow one of his wives upon him for the length of time his services are
required, but any children born of this marriage belong to the chief.
This state of affairs is kept as much as possible from the knowledge of
Europeans, and indeed the missionaries have done much towards the
improvement of the people in this respect, as well as in other ways;
but, while such vast numbers are averse to Christianity, the improvement
must naturally be slow.

Such a thing as an "old maid" is almost unknown amongst the heathen
Basuto, nor are widows allowed to remain as such for any length of time.
Generally, a widow is married again twelve months after her husband's
death, to his nearest blood relation, most frequently his brother.

The superstitions and practices with regard to illness and death are
worthy of record. If any one is taken ill it is believed to be because
he or she has offended the spirits of his forefathers. To propitiate
them, an ox or a sheep must at once be sacrificed, the blood of which
must be used to wash the sick person, while the fat from the entrails of
the sacrifice must be wrapped round the patient's neck. The meat of the
sacrifice is eaten by the "family doctor" and the male relations,
without salt, and at one meal. If the patient recovers, it is because
the sacrifice has found favour with the spirits; but if he dies, they
are still angry, and further means must be taken to propitiate them.

In cases of serious illness, when it is unmistakable that death is
near, the sick person is taken out of the hut, if it is at all possible
to remove him, without causing him instant death, as the spirits obtain
easier access to the "Skerm" than to the interior of the hut. A hole is
cut in the "Skerm" to enable the spirits to enter, as they cannot do so
through the doorway of mortals. The friends and relatives of the dying
man (or woman) then bid him farewell and leave him to the care of the
watchers, old women, blood relations of the family. These heartless
creatures resort to the most cruel and barbarous acts, which it would be
too revolting to describe; suffice it to say, that, ere life is quite
extinct, they place their victims in the recognisedly correct posture,
namely, in an upright position, with knees up to chin, and arms doubled
up. They then tie him securely so that he cannot move his limbs.

In cases where death has been unexpected, the sinews have to be severed
at the elbows, knees, and hips, in order to place the dead in the
correct position for burial. As soon as death has occurred, a skin is
thrown over the corpse, which on no account must be removed by any one.
The old women then break out into a dismal wailing cry, and the watchers
outside know that all is over. They immediately throw ashes on their
heads and join in the weeping, placing their hands on their bowed heads,
and almost prostrating themselves before the dead. All friends are then
summoned, each one bringing a present of grain for the dead to sustain
him on his journey. They then kill an ox as a sacrifice, which is cooked
after dark; the mourners weep and gird their loins with strips of hard
hide, and seat themselves in groups by the hut. Very little talking is
allowed, the only permissible subject being the good deeds and noble
qualities of the deceased. After dark a few of the nearest male
relatives set off to dig the grave, which is a circular hole about four
feet deep. The doctor is called to pray for clouds, in order that the
night may become very dark.

Shortly before midnight the corpse is carried, still wrapped in the
skin, and placed at the entrance to the cattle kraal, which is left open
all night, as he alone must guard the cattle from straying on this, his
first night in the spirit world. Just before dawn he is placed in his
grave with the grain, a small piece of meat, salt and leting, and a
large stone, as nearly the size of the grave as possible, is placed on
his head. He is placed facing the east, to be ready to obey "Molinio's"
call, and in a crouching position, so as not to be late in answering it.
The grave is then filled up with earth and stones, until there is a
fair-sized mound. On the top of this is placed the contents of the
stomach of the cow or ox, sacrificed at sunset to the spirits who rule
over life and death, after which every one must leave the grave,
without one backward glance, if they do not wish to incur the severe
displeasure of the spirits.

The entrance to the cattle kraal is then built up, and a new one made.
The cattle are called "Melimo a' nko e metse" (the spirits with the wet
noses). The graves of old men are always dug round the kraal, others are
buried, either on the hill top, or in sight of the kraal, but not very
near.

The mourners then return to the hut, where the meat of the sacrifice is
divided between them; but before eating, they wash themselves, and the
near relations of the deceased fasten a piece of fat from the entrails
round their neck, thus signifying that they mourn for a parent, or
husband, or child, and to propitiate the spirits, lest another of the
family should die. In eating the meat great care must be taken that no
bones are allowed to be thrown away, or given to the dogs, because they
are a sacrifice to the old god, and dogs may neither partake of such
food nor enter the "happy land." When all the meat is eaten the bones
are collected and burnt, while the mourners stand round and cry, "Our
God, hear us, oh! hear us, we pray, and receive this dead brother (or
sister) in peace. There is a light to our grandfather's Father. May the
old God pray to the new God for us."

I forgot to mention that the meat of the sacrifice must not be cut with
a knife, nor have salt eaten with it. It must be torn in pieces, as to
use a knife would be to make sickness sharp. The poles of the dead man's
hut are then pulled out, as no one must live in it again, and it is made
a ruin.

After four or five months the pieces of fat are removed from the necks
of the mourners, and replaced by a black reim, or strap, which is worn
until the year of mourning has expired. The nearest male relative, uncle
or brother of the deceased, then arrives, and is shown all the clothing,
bedding, &c., with any possessions, such as knives, weapons, saddlery,
&c., which belonged to the dead man. A sheep is then killed, and the
blood is sprinkled over the clothing. The whole sheep must be eaten by
the uncle alone before he can return to his own house. When it is
finished he breaks the mourning chains, which he takes with him. A pack
ox or horse and all the personal effects of the deceased are brought to
the door and taken away by the uncle, who thus removes all sickness from
the family. When he reaches home, before he enters his own house,
another sheep is killed and quickly eaten by him and his family, so as
to drive sickness far from the house.

Should any one be so heartless as not to cry at the funeral of friend or
relation, the spirits become enraged, and visit him with some terrible
sickness as a punishment for his hardness of heart.



CHAPTER VII.

BIRTH CUSTOMS--EDUCATION--INTELLECT--CHARACTER--NEWS-CARRIERS.


The "Khapong," which I mentioned in a former chapter, is supposed to be
the abode of the Spirit of Maternity, and women who have no children
firmly believe this spirit is able to grant their heart's desire if only
they can find favour in his sight. In order that he may see how
earnestly they desire a child, they will make either a wooden or clay
doll, which they strap on their backs and carry about with them, as they
would a living child, for at least six months. At the end of that time,
they lay it in the "Khapong" as an offering to the spirit, together with
any bangles, beads, or ornaments, or even money, which they can collect.
Should no child be born, it is a sign that the woman has not found
favour with the spirit yet, so the doll is removed from the "Khapong,"
and strapped on the woman's back until the spirit is satisfied, when oh,
joy! the longed-for child is born. I know of one case where for five
years the woman carried one of these dolls about with her before her
petition was granted.

The customs with regard to the birth of a woman's first child are
decidedly quaint. To begin with, the wife must leave her husband's house
about a month, or even longer, before the expected arrival of the child,
as it must be born at the home of its maternal grandmother, or else it
cannot possibly live to grow up. If it happens to be a boy, the
rejoicings are judiciously mixed with regret. As the news-bearers set
out at once to carry the tidings to the father (who has remained at his
own village), they learn nothing of the woman's condition, that is a
matter of slight importance. Upon arrival at their destination they
attack the unsuspecting man and beat him vigorously with their sticks.
No word is spoken, but the unlucky man at once understands he is the
father of a male child instead of the eagerly hoped-for daughter.
Naturally he is disappointed, but nevertheless he consoles himself with
the reflection that after all a boy is better than no child, for he will
certainly be of some use, and the spirits may be kind and give him a
daughter next time. If, on the other hand, the infant is a girl, the
woman receives many and hearty congratulations; the news-bearers hurry
off to carry the joyful tidings to the father. Great caution is observed
as they approach the village, lest he should catch sight of them. At
length they manage to creep up behind him, when he is sitting outside,
probably conversing with one or two friends. The messengers are armed
this time with a pot of water, which they throw over the happy father,
who immediately receives the congratulations of all his friends. The
water is supposed to act as a wholesome "damper" upon his joy, lest the
good news should prove injurious to him or unsettle his mind. It is not
considered correct for him to visit his wife and child, but, when the
baby is a month old, the wife returns to her husband, bringing the child
with her. Basuto women often nurse their baby until it is eighteen
months old. When the first baby is weaned, the mother takes it back to
her parents, to whom it will in future belong; the actual parents no
longer retain any claim upon it, nor, should it be a girl, do they
receive the dowry upon her marriage; that also belongs to the maternal
grandparents.

Should a doctor be called in at the birth of a child, the mother can
neither wean it nor cut its hair until the doctor has given his consent.
Usually the infant's head is shaved on the second day.

Should other children be born, there is no need for the mother to leave
her husband's house, as no evil will attend their birth, such as
threatens the birth of the first-born. In all cases where no doctor has
been in attendance, the father has absolute control over the child,
whether absent or present, and no step can be taken without first
consulting him.

Sometimes rather strange complications arise. For instance, numbers of
Basuto leave the country every year to find work in the mines and on the
railways. Many of them are married men with young children. Suppose one
man left a wife and baby of a few months old behind him, his wife must
on no account wean the child until her husband returns. The result is,
that now and then one comes across quite big children, able to run about
and talk quite intelligently, still unweaned, and, when asked the
reason, the mother will reply: "My husband has not yet returned."
Occasionally he never comes back.

When the birth of a child is momentarily expected, as many women and old
men (the latter being regarded as "old women") crowd into the hut as it
will conveniently hold. As soon as the child is born, an appropriate
name is suggested, such as "Thibello" (waited for or long expected),
"Siluane" (tear-drop), etc., and by this name the child is in future
known, the mother taking the name "Ma-Thibello" (mother of waiting), or
"Ma" (mother of), whichever name is given to the child.

Should a woman die while her child is still too young to be fed with a
spoon, a sheep or goat is killed, and the windpipe, thoroughly cleansed,
is used as a feeding-tube, down which the milk is slowly poured into
the child's mouth. If it is not expedient to kill an animal, a female
goat in milk is procured, and the child taught to drink from the goat's
udder. In these cases the goats become more attached to their "foster
children" than to their own offspring, and will return at regular
intervals to the hut to suckle the child. It is a strange sight to see a
goat run bleating to the hut out of which crawls a fat brown baby, over
whom the animal rejoices as if it were her own, lying down contentedly
to allow it to drink, until, thoroughly satisfied, the child retires to
sleep, and the goat trots off to pasture, returning again to her charge
in a few hours.

Amongst Christian families Sesuto names are always given to the children
at the time of their birth, although, when old enough, they are taken to
the missionary to be baptized, the name then chosen being generally a
Biblical one. The Basuto also bestow what they consider suitable Sesuto
names upon the Europeans and their children living in the country.

Now that education is procurable in the country, the children are sent
off to school as soon as they are old enough to master the alphabet.
Many of them are bright, clever little creatures, and keenly interested
in their studies, with often quite as much ability as the ordinary
European child of the same age, but, as a rule, they can only be
educated up to a certain point. When one reaches that one comes, as it
were, to a blank wall. There seems to be no further brain power to
develop, and, if forced to continue his studies, the youth will become
sullen, stupid, and intensely trying to one's patience. This applies to
them in all "walks of life"--in domestic work, in carpentry, masonry,
etc. The girls are good, honest, nice-tempered servants, capable of
becoming fairly efficient in all household work, and especially good as
nurses, being devoted to their little charges, who, as a rule, have a
great affection for them in return; but one has to realise at once that
one must limit one's expectations, and be content with something
considerably less than perfection. Their wonderful honesty, on the other
hand, is a strong point in their favour. I have lived ten years in the
country, and have only had two dishonest servants during that period.

All church services have a great attraction for them, whether heathen or
baptized Christians, and they will go long distances to attend
"service," on week days as well as Sundays. They are a musical race, and
pick up the airs of the hymns and chants with wonderful celerity,
learning to sing in parts as easily as though they had been trained to
do so for generations. Many of them have beautiful voices. In church
they are very devout, and would put to shame many a civilised
congregation. Of course, there are many cases of hypocritical
devoutness, but is that to be wondered at in a nation barely in touch
with civilisation? and, if we look nearer home, are we in a position to
criticise? I fancy not. It is, I admit, a little irritating to come
across a self-opinionated, intensely consequential young Mosuto, who
evidently thinks his fellow-creatures the coarsest pottery as compared
with his own superfine eggshell china self, but another generation of
civilisation will show them more clearly where they stand.

The Basuto method of carrying news is as follows. In certain villages,
at considerable distances apart, there are men whose business it is to
act as "criers," because they possess the art of throwing their powerful
voices through long distances. In each district, certain spots are
selected from which to call. These spots are chosen because of their
natural advantages. When any important news has to be sent through the
country, a "crier," or Mohale or a Marumo, as he is called (literally
"the brave man of the assegai"), goes to the top of one of these chosen
places, and shouts his news to the village in the distance, where dwells
the next "crier." It is desirable to call at night, as the voice carries
so much more distinctly. Crier No. 2, on hearing the voice, listens,
perhaps asks a question or two, and then sets off at a trot to the next
spot, from whence he calls to Crier No. 3, and so on. In this way the
news travels with astonishing rapidity. Long distances are covered in a
few hours. News of battle is never sent until after sunset. During the
fighting in Natal and in the Stormberg, the Basuto invariably heard of
any big engagement before we did, though we were possessed of
telegraphic communication. Of course, I am only referring here to South
Basutoland. As far as I know, our headquarters was all along in direct
communication with the Generals, and probably received information
before other parts of the country.

Often in the evenings, when there is, for South Africa, a great
stillness over all, the silence will be broken by the call of one human
voice to another. It is by no means unmusical, and there is nothing
harsh about it. Somehow the sound seems fitted to the scene, part of the
weird strangeness of one's surroundings. I wish my pen were gifted
enough to describe it properly, so as to bring the picture before
you--the dim twilight; the cool after the great heat of the day; the
tiny blinking fires here and there on the dark, frowning mountains from
numberless hamlets; the voice of nature hushed to a dreamy murmur; then
the deep drawn-out call from one village to another, arousing countless
echoes from the kloofs below, or the steady rise and fall of many
voices chanting in the minor key some favourite heathen song as the
singers sit round their homes in the refreshing coolness of a Basutoland
summer night. One is filled with a great wonder. Life and oneself seem
so little, the world so vast, and eternity the vastness beyond all
words.

People living in such a country are naturally emotional, and very
impressionable, with a firm belief in the supernatural. Their music,
too, if such it can be called, is in the minor key, though even that
does not have a lastingly depressing effect upon them. They are just
like big, undisciplined children, full of "moods" and impulses, and
easily influenced by kindness.



CHAPTER VIII.

NATIVE DOCTORS--THOKOLOSI--MOLOI--WARFARE--PROVERBS.


Each chief has his own especial rain-maker, who is also the "Ngaka," or
doctor. These men are held in great veneration by the people, who firmly
believe they are possessed of supernatural power. Of course the "Ngaka"
encourages this belief in every possible way, playing upon the credulity
of his victims with the solemnity of a seer of old. He makes a paying
business of it, too, exacting a goat or sheep, or even several head of
cattle, as payment, according to the magnitude of the service performed
by him. He knows the family history of each individual in his particular
district, and, in a quiet, unnoticed way, finds out everything likely to
be of use to him either in his profession as doctor or as prophet. He is
a student of nature to no small degree, and certainly possesses a wide
knowledge of the use of herbs. He has a wonderful magnetic influence
over others, the result, I suppose, of superior brain development.

When rain is needed, the chief calls the "Ngaka," who, armed with his
divining rod, arrives at the khotla to hear what is required of him. He
then proceeds to "doctor" the rod with a black pigment and human blood
(I fancy in the remote past a human victim was always sacrificed, but
times are changed, and a few drops of blood are all the rain-god now
requires). The people assemble in the village and watch him as he
ascends the nearest mountain. When on the summit, he raises his rod
heavenward, and calls "Pula ha-e-na a bolokue" (Rain come down and save
us). This he does several times, and goes through a considerable amount
of pantomime; but, as no one is allowed to go near him, only his
gestures can be followed after that one loud call. When he is satisfied
that rain is coming, he runs back to the village singing. The people
join him, and indulge in feasting and merry-making. If, after seven
days, no rain comes, there is something wrong with the divining-rod,
which has displeased the rain-god, so the rod is again "doctored," and
"Ngaka" goes off once more to the mountain, where he remains in
supplication until "he brings down rain." In reality, these men consult
the heavens before consenting to make rain, and consequently are seldom
unsuccessful.

Certain children are selected, in infancy or early childhood, to be made
doctors. Their poor little bodies are cut, and various "medicines"
rubbed into the wounds, which bestow powers of divination, of healing,
and of witchcraft upon the children. They become restless and unable to
sleep in the hut at night, and, as their minds develop, they are trained
by the old doctors to succeed them.

There is in Basutoland a little creature of whom all stand in awe. He is
not much bigger than a baboon, but is minus the tail, and is perfectly
black, with a quantity of black hair on his body. He has hands and feet
like an ordinary mortal, but is never heard to speak. He shuns the
daylight, and abhors clothing, even in the coldest weather. Evidently he
is above such sensations as heat and cold. This wonderful little
creature is "Thokolosi," the Poisoner, the Evil One, whose deeds are
cruel, revengeful, apparently unlimited. He has power to kill, to
afflict in every imaginable way, to send mad, or to visit with unknown
sickness; but to do good is beyond his power. There are several of these
little people in the country. They generally are employed by the witch
doctors to do their dirty work.

To slight a Thokolosi is to bring down disaster upon oneself. If once
you offend him, or he is commanded to injure you, he will hunt you down
remorselessly until his object is accomplished. During the day he
generally remains hidden in the corner of the witch doctor's hut, behind
the enormous juala pots, where it is so dark that he is unseen by even
the sharpest eyes. If by any unfortunate chance you meet him at night,
you must neither point at him nor speak to him.

Whether there really are creatures in any way answering to the
description of these little people or not I cannot say. My own belief is
that these doctors keep Bushmen who act the part and impose upon the
superstitions of the Basuto, for there certainly is _some_ truth at the
bottom of it all, as I can prove from personal experience.

Some years ago, before I knew of the existence of Thokolosi, I was
obliged to go to our cowshed rather late one evening to investigate the
disturbance amongst the cows. The moon was nearly full at the time, and
was shining brightly. The shed was at the bottom of our garden, some
little way from the house. I went, accompanied by my native nurse girl
and our big black retriever. Nothing occurred until we were returning,
when suddenly we heard what I took to be a dog running from the
Residency through the dead leaves in the garden towards us. I had barely
said "What's that?" when we heard the "ping" of the wire fence, and saw,
crossing the path, not a dozen yards in front of us, a little black
creature about the size and shape of a boy of six. The night being very
clear and bright there was no mistaking the fact that it was a human
form of some sort. It ran with a peculiar shuffle, moving its head from
side to side, straight through our garden into the darkness beyond.
When my girl saw it she caught hold of me in terror, but uttered no
word. The dog, on the contrary, gave vent to a sound half growl, half
howl, and tore off to the house, where we followed as quickly as
possible, and found him under my little son's bed, from whence he
refused to stir. This was to my mind conclusive proof that I had not
been "imagining things," as was said to me when I described what had
occurred; for the dog is a really plucky one, and I had never seen him
afraid before. My girl then told me we had seen "Thokolosi."

There is yet another evil influence called Moloi. He is in reality a
"doctored" Mosuto, whose fate it is to kill the enemies of his clan or
chief. When he is a child a deep wound is cut in his back near the
spine; into this is rubbed a "medicine" composed of the necessary parts
of a human body and various herbs. When this "medicine" influences him,
he shuns his fellow-creatures, discards his clothing, and remains out in
the veldt all night. His first duty is to kill a relation of his own,
as, until he has done so, he can have no heart, no soul. He may be, and
often is, extremely reluctant to do such a thing; but, sooner or later,
the fever in his blood (the power of the medicine) will compel him to do
the foul deed, after which his body finds rest, the fever leaves him,
and he becomes a peaceable mortal once more, until the time comes when
Moloi takes the place of the man, and he is ready for any deed, however
brutal. Of course, many of these old superstitions and customs are dying
out, but they are by no means altogether dead. They are, however, kept
as much as possible in the background, and the whole country is making
really wonderful strides towards civilization.

Before going to fight, the chief summoned all his warriors to his
village, merely telling them to come supplied with "lipabi." This
conveyed the desired meaning to them, and they secretly prepared their
weapons of war, and ordered their women-folk to prepare the "lipabi,"
which is merely roast mealies ground to a powder and mixed with sugar or
salt. This is the only food carried during the campaign by a Mosuto
warrior. Towards sunset they arrived at their chief's village and
prepared to kill the sacrifice. This must be a bull in good condition,
and the manner of his death is particularly brutal. The unfortunate
animal is driven into a secluded spot some distance from the village,
the whole "army" accompanying it. (In cases where several chiefs combine
against a common foe, each calls his own men, offers his own sacrifices
of one or more bulls according to the number of warriors, and has his
own separate war-dance.) Of course the "Ngaka" (doctor) is also
present. When it is time to kill the bull, the oldest and bravest
warriors step forward armed with three assegais each, which they throw
in turn at the quivering, maddened animal, until at last one proves more
merciful than its predecessors, and puts an end to the poor brute's
sufferings; but on no account must death occur _too_ quickly. As soon as
it was dead, it was skinned, and the meat, partially cooked, was divided
amongst the company, nothing but the skin and the bare bones being
allowed to remain. "Mogobelo" (the war dance) then began, the warriors
presenting a most grotesque appearance, with their faces and bodies
smeared with red and white clay, ox tails suspended round their waists,
and from elbows, knees, and often shoulders, their ox hide oblong
shields in one hand, an assegai in the other, and head-dresses of every
shape and form on their heads.

The doctor had already prepared a spot, and round this they danced,
growing more and more excited as the night advanced. Every now and then
a warrior would break through the circle into the centre, where he would
stamp and shout out the number of foes he had killed in battle, and how
and where he had killed them, striking his assegai into the ground for
every slain foe.

At daybreak they were all "doctored," and at once set out for the
battle-field. As far as I can learn, they had not any recognised order
of advance, but merely did so _en masse_, until within a few hundred
yards of the advancing foe. Each side then halted, while from their
ranks advanced one of the bravest of their warriors, who in stately
manner proceeded to cross the intervening space. Upon his arrival he
joined the ranks of the enemy. Whichever warrior succeeded in reaching
the foe first, enabled his side to commence the attack.

In former days the warriors were armed only with assegais, battle-axes,
shields, and clubs; but now every Mosuto of any standing possesses a
firearm of some sort, consequently their method of fighting has
undergone considerable changes. They are by no means deadly shots, and
would have small chance of success against an European foe in the open;
but could give a pretty good account of themselves in the wilds and
fastnesses of their own land.

Some of the quaint proverbs, doings, and sayings of the Basuto deserve
mention. For instance, it is not correct to pass behind any one, even in
a large assembly. It is looked upon as a moral stab in the back. Neither
is it correct to insult a foe in the presence of others, the proverb
being, "If you prick an enemy with a two-pointed assegai, it will hurt
you as well."

When a special blessing is given, the saying is, "May your feet go
softly all your days, and may your face be as the Morning Sun!" In times
of peace their greeting to a stranger is, "We welcome you. We are
sitting down building houses."

Another proverb is, "One hand washes another." Again, when wishing to
praise another, "You have taken the wedge from between my teeth." To one
in trouble the greeting is, "The Mother of Consolation comfort you."

Another is, "Break not your heart, sorrow will roll away like mists at
sunrise." When any one is dying, they say, "It is not a person. It is
only the grave of one."



CHAPTER IX.

BOERS AND BASUTO.


It is perhaps as well, before closing this account of Basutoland, to
mention the relation of Boers and Basuto towards each other, though the
subject is so distasteful that I may, perhaps, be pardoned for dwelling
very briefly upon it.

The Boers, from the earliest times, have been noted for their cruelty to
the coloured races, but this has been particularly so with the Basuto. A
glance at the Crime Records at each Station or Magistracy, or a short
perusal of the Blue Book, will verify this statement.

Frequent cases of theft by Basuto servants from their Dutch masters are
brought up for trial all over the country, and upon investigation the
greater number prove to have been committed by those who, despairing of
ever receiving the wages due to them for months (in some cases even
years) of labour, resort to this method of drawing attention to their
case.

As a rule the Mosuto helps himself to some of his master's flocks or
herds, and flies for protection to Basutoland. He does not look upon
this in the light of actual theft, and is quite willing to be brought up
by the Magistrate (or Assistant Commissioner as he is called) of his
own district, where he knows he may freely state his case with the hope
of receiving at least a fair hearing, and, if possible, in the future a
portion of the wages due to him, though he knows he will first of all
have to endure a certain amount of punishment for the theft he has
committed and for desertion, varying in severity according to the
enormity of the offence. But all cases cannot be tried in Basutoland. In
some instances the Dutchman insists upon the Mosuto being brought up for
trial before the Landrost of the nearest Free State town. Small hope is
there then that the Mosuto's version will even be listened to.

"That Kaffir dog must learn what it is to steal from a Dutchman." And
often poor wretch he does learn--from the "cat"--as well as having to
pay a fine or go to prison.

It is no uncommon thing for a Dutchman to hire a Mosuto to work for him
for two or three months, holding out as an inducement the promise of a
sheep, or a couple of goats, or even a cow, as payment for the work
done. When the time has expired, the Mosuto claims his wages, but is put
off with an excuse: he must work yet another month, and then he will get
something more; or six months longer, and then perhaps he will get a
horse. And the poor, ignorant creature remains, only to be again
disappointed.

If he is idle he is sjamboked, kicked, and generally ill-used, and in
some cases even thus treated simply as a matter of course, though there
is no cause for complaint.

The Basuto girls are also beaten both by master and mistress if they
fail to give satisfaction, and are generally treated with contempt, if
not actually ill-used. If I give one or two examples it will suffice.
They are by no means exceptions.

In the Leribe district there lives a man who in his boyhood was leader
of the team of oxen belonging to the Dutchman for whom he worked.

It is the duty of the leader, who is generally a boy of from ten to
sixteen years of age, to guide the oxen by means of a leather strap
attached to the horns of the two leading animals. This little fellow,
whom we will call Pete, was employed in this way. His master, as the
waggon moved slowly along, used to amuse himself by making a target of
little Pete, using the long waggon whip as his weapon, and literally
nipping out pieces of flesh from the child's naked body. If Pete ran on
ahead to get away from the cruel whip, he was shouted at and threatened
with dire punishment, until, terrified, he returned to his work.

At length, one day, a particularly sharp cut of the whip caught the
child in the eye dragging it completely out of its socket. No
compensation has ever been made to Pete.

Some few years ago a Mosuto girl, who was employed at a Dutch
farm-house in the Free State, incurred the anger of her employer, who
had her stripped naked and fastened across a bedstead, whereupon he beat
her until her back was all cut and bleeding, and a large piece of flesh
had been nipped completely out of her thigh. When the pain became so
great that for a moment she fainted, she was released, kicked and sworn
at, and told to return to her work. Needless to say, she did not do so,
but ran away to her home in Basutoland, and returned to her employer no
more.

Not so long ago a Dutch farmer was riding round his farm and had
occasion to find fault with a native. The man answered him very
impertinently, whereupon he rode back to his house, loaded his gun and
returned to where the now terrified native was working. With many curses
he called the man, telling him he intended to kill him. The poor wretch
implored to be spared, but in vain. He was shot, and when the case was
tried in one of the Free State towns, the farmer was fined £10!! That
night he gave a champagne supper to his friends.

Another similar case was that of a farmer whose habits were not too
temperate. One evening he was considerably annoyed by the noise his farm
hands were making in their huts, some little distance from the house.
The men were having a small feast, and probably had been drinking a
considerable quantity of Kaffir beer, their master had also been
drinking--_not_ Kaffir beer. He walked down to the hut and told them to
be quiet. They obeyed only for a few moments. Then the singing and noise
began worse than before. Taking his loaded gun with him, the farmer
returned to the hut, called out one of the men and shot him dead on the
spot. For this he was fined somewhere about £100 by the Free State
Government. He was very wealthy. Both these men I have met, also their
wives.

Yet one more case. Two servant girls, who for some offence were tied up
to the wheels of the waggon by their master and flogged, were taken
away, after his fury had exhausted itself upon them--mutilated corpses.

Of course there are, here and there, amongst the Dutch, men and women
who are both kind and generous to their native servants, but they are
the exception, not the rule.

The ordinary Boer looks upon a native as no better than a dog, without
rights, without a soul, a creature to be made use of, or to turn adrift,
or ill-use, according to the mood of his master.

I do not wish to give the idea that I consider the native races should
be placed on a level with the white races. Far from it. They need to be
treated much as one would treat an unruly child, with _great_ firmness,
and to be taught to regard the white man as their _master_, as a being
infinitely their superior. But a master can be both kind and just, and
only punish where punishment is needed. To go from one extreme to the
other is _most_ undesirable, and can be productive only of harm, and
those who try to instil ideas of equality into the semi-savage brain are
increasing the trouble which some future generation will almost
inevitably have to face.

What is sadly needed is that Englishmen and women (men especially)
should set the natives in every part of South Africa an example of
uprightness, morality, and perseverance, should gain and retain the
respect and devotion of the native tribes, and should judiciously train
them to become useful members of our Empire.

The missionaries, undoubtedly, do an enormous amount of good, but many
of them are as unwise in their treatment of the Basuto as the Boers,
though they err on the side of kindness. They fail to realize that
civilisation _must_ come gradually to be effective; that to try to run
and jump before you can walk is foolish, and may often be harmful, and
by treating a raw native as an equal, they are very possibly laying the
foundation stone for native disturbances in the future. Directly a
native begins to look upon himself as an educated being, equal to the
white man, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred he at once loses all
respect for the European, whom he treats in an off-hand, condescending
manner, intensely offensive to any one who has realized the wide gulf
which separates the two races.

So many people fail to understand that a South African native, even the
best, can not be placed in the same category as an Indian. I firmly
believe that kindness will repay us infinitely better than cruelty,
_but_ it must be kindness mixed with _great_ firmness, and there should
be _no_ lowering of the master to the level of the native. If only a
better, a higher standard of "morals and manners" could be instilled
into the European races of South Africa, there would be no cause for
anxiety as to the future development of the native races.



CHAPTER X.

THE STORY OF TAKANE.


Once long ago there lived in Basutoland a chief who had many herds of
cattle and flocks of sheep, and also a beautiful daughter called Takane,
the joy of his heart, and her mother's pride. Takane was loved by
Masilo, her cousin, who secretly sought to marry her, but she liked him
not, neither would she pay heed to his entreaties. At length Masilo
wearied her so, that her anger broke forth, and with scorn she
said--"Masilo, I like you not. Talk not to me of marriage, for I would
rather die than be your wife." "Ho! is that true?" asked Masilo, the
evil spirit shining out of his eyes. "Wait a little while, proud
daughter of our chief; I will yet repay you for those words." Takane
laughed a scornful laugh, and, taking up her pitcher, stepped blithely
down to the well. How stupid Masilo was, and why did he keep on
troubling her? Did he think, the great baboon, that she would ever marry
him? Ho! how stupid men were, after all!

But in Masilo's heart there raged a devil prompting him to deeds of
revenge. It whispered in his ear, and, as he listened, he smiled, well
pleased, for already he saw the desire of his heart within his reach.
Patience and a little cunning, and she should be his.

The next day Masilo obtained his uncle's consent to his giving a feast
at a small village across the river for youths and maidens, as was the
custom of his tribe. He then paid a visit to the old witch-doctor, who
promised to send a terrible hailstorm upon the village in the middle of
the feast. Next he went to all the people of the village, and, because
he was a chiefs son, and had power in the land, and they were afraid to
offend him, he made them promise that none of them would allow Takane to
enter their huts; but he said no word of the hailstorm, only he told the
people the evil eye would smite them if they disobeyed him.

Early the next day all the villages were astir with excitement; the
youths set out in companies by themselves, the maidens following later,
singing and dancing as they went. How lovely Takane looked, her face and
beautifully rounded limbs shining with fat and red clay; the bangles on
her arms and ankles burnished until human endeavour could do no more.
Soon all were assembled, and dancing, singing, feasting, and gladness
held sway. Suddenly the sky grew dark, the rain-god frowned upon the
village, and hail poured in fury down upon the feast. Away ran old and
young, seeking shelter in the friendly huts. Takane alone remained
outside. As she ran from hut to hut, the people crowded to the doorway,
and, when she implored them to take her in, they replied that indeed
they would gladly do so, but how could they find room for even one more?
Did she not see how some of them were almost outside the door already?
At length she came to a hut in which there was only one old woman,
sitting shivering over a small fire. "Mother," exclaimed Takane, "I pray
you, let me come in, for I am nearly dead already." The old woman placed
herself in the doorway, exclaiming, "Go away; don't you see my house is
full?" But the girl gently pushed her aside and entered.

After the storm had passed, the merry-makers returned to their homes,
Masilo alone remaining behind, in the hope of discovering Takane's dead
body, or hearing something of her fate. As he wandered here and there,
he saw her coming towards him, unconscious of his presence, and
evidently on her way to cross the river. Quickly he hid behind a huge
boulder until she had passed, when he cautiously followed her,
overtaking her just as she reached the bank of the river. Now by this
time the river was getting almost too full to cross in safety, and the
Water Spirit was angrily murmuring, for he wanted a sacrifice of a human
being to satisfy him. Masilo went up to Takane, who stood hesitating
whether to cross or not, and, seizing her by the hand, drew her into
the river, until the water came up to her neck.

"Will you marry me now, Takane, or shall I let the Water Spirit have
you? I know you cannot swim; so if you won't marry me, I shall take you
into the deep hole by that tree and push you in. Say, now, will you
marry me?"

"No, Masilo, I will never marry you, never. Let the Water Spirit take me
first;" and she struggled to free her hand, but he was strong, and he
held her fast. Again he drew her farther into the river, until the water
reached her lips.

"Now, Takane, is not life with me better than death with the Water
Spirit for husband? Say, will you marry me now?"

"I choose rather death in the black pool, with the cold stones for my
bed and the water for my covering, than life with you as my husband.
Haste, haste, for I am weary and would sleep."

Her continued refusal to marry him so infuriated Masilo, that, seizing
her by the hair of her head, he swam out towards the pool, into which he
pushed her with a fierce laugh, saying, "There! go drown! It is too late
now to change your mind." He then turned, and in a few moments reached
the bank, and, without one backward glance, walked off to his hut.

Now a wonderful thing happened to Takane. When Masilo pushed her into
the pool, the hungry water took her swiftly down towards the tree which
grew out of the middle of the river. She did not sink, because her
"blanket" (literally the skin mantle worn by Basuto before the
introduction of blankets) was not yet wet through, and, as she passed
under the tree, the blanket caught in a low branch and held her firmly.
There she remained for some time, vainly trying to pull herself up into
the tree. At length she succeeded in doing so, and for the moment at any
rate was safe, but, as she looked at the water all round her, and
realized that even when the river was low she could not reach the bank
unaided, she felt that it would be better to drown at once than to die a
slow death from starvation, which seemed the only fate before her if she
remained in the tree. Still, something might happen, some one might pass
and see her. Yes, she would wait at least a little while; so, arranging
herself as comfortably as she could, she prepared to pass the night in
the tree.

The next morning Masilo came down to the river with the cows. Takane hid
herself as much as possible, but his sharp eyes soon discovered her.

"Oh, ho! What strange bird is that?" he exclaimed. "How came it in the
tree? I must try to catch it." Then, seeing that Takane remained
motionless, he sat down on the bank and began to eat his "bogobe" with
great enjoyment. "See what nice bread I have. Are you not hungry,
Takane? Shall I send you some? But no, you do not need it. You are so
fat, you will live for a long time. Well, I must go away now, but I will
come again to-morrow. It is nice to see the dear little Takane so
happy."

The next day Masilo came again, and ate his breakfast on the river bank,
taunting Takane all the while. This he did on several following days,
until Takane became so weak that she neither heard nor saw him, and
would have fallen into the water were it not that her blanket held her
firmly to the tree. Meanwhile, there was mourning in her father's house
and village, for all thought she had been drowned in trying to cross the
river after the storm.

One day, Takane's little brother followed Masilo when he took the cattle
out to graze. When they came near the river, Masilo told the child not
to come any farther, saying if he was a good boy, and did what he was
told, he would get a present of some little birds which were in a tree
in the river. Masilo then left the child and paid his daily visit to
Takane, but the little boy, full of curiosity, followed unseen, and to
his great astonishment saw, not a bird's-nest, with the promised young,
but his sister Takane, almost unrecognisable from starvation. He
listened for a little while to the conversation, then, fearing Masilo's
anger if he were discovered, he crept back to the herd. When Masilo
returned, he told the child the birds were not quite big enough to leave
their nest. The little boy then went home and told his parents what he
had seen. They made him promise to keep his secret; then, calling their
medicine man, they hurriedly took counsel together. Late that night,
when the village was wrapped in darkness, the parents of Takane and the
medicine man set out for the spot where the girl was hidden. The
medicine man called upon the spirit of the water to aid them, and soon
Takane lay in her mother's arms, too weak even to speak. Slowly and
tenderly they bore her back to her home, where for days she lay between
life and death. Masilo and the other villagers were told that a sick
stranger was in the hut, therefore they must not enter, and, as this is
the custom of the people, they thought nothing more of it. Masilo, it is
true, had been down to the river and had found Takane gone, but he only
thought that at last she had fallen into the water and been drowned.
Several times he went down to see if the Water Spirit had given up its
victim, but no sign of Takane's real fate came to warn him.

When two moons had come and gone, the old chief saw that the time to
punish Masilo had come, so, calling all his people to assemble on a
certain day, he made preparations for a great feast. When the day came,
the people all assembled in the open space in front of the khotla
(court-house), leaving a wide path from the chief's hut to the centre of
the open space. This path was carpeted with new mats, and skin karosses
were laid on the ground for the chief and his family to sit upon.
Masilo, by right of his near relationship to the chief, took a prominent
place in the inner circle, while, unknown to him, several warriors
quietly took their stand immediately behind him. Presently the old chief
issued from his hut, followed by his chief councillor and medicine man;
behind them came Takane's mother, leading by the hand Takane herself, no
longer a living skeleton, but plump, smiling, and lovely as ever. A stir
like the beginning of a storm shook the people, while Masilo, with a
wild cry, turned to escape, but was quickly caught by the armed
warriors, who had remained motionless behind him. Briefly the old chief
related the story; then, raising his hand and pointing at the terrified
Masilo, he cried, "What, my children, shall be the fate of this toad?"
With one voice, the people answered, "The cruel death for him! the cruel
death for him!"

A smile of approval passed over the chiefs face, and, making a sign to
the warriors who held Masilo, he turned his back on the trembling
wretch, who was dragged off to a distance and tortured to death, while
the village feasted and danced.

When darkness once again enfolded the land, the dead body of Masilo was
taken to a secret spot and buried, and life at the village returned to
its daily duties; but the spirit of Masilo could not rest, and still
strove to possess Takane, as his body had longed for her.

One day the daughters of the village, accompanied by Takane, went forth
to gather reeds for the making of mats. They wandered far in their
search, and were growing weary, when one of them cried: "See! there are
reeds, beautiful reeds, as many as we shall need;" and they looking,
saw, even as their companion had said, a small bed of beautiful reeds.
Soon all were busily engaged in cutting down armsful of the desired
plant; but Takane, being a chief's daughter, was not allowed to work as
hard as the other girls, and soon seated herself down to rest in the
middle of the reed bed.

When the sun was low in the sky the girls prepared to return home, but
Takane could not rise from the ground, nor could her companions lift
her. Again and again they tried to move her, but to no purpose; she
seemed to have become rooted to the ground. Finally, she persuaded them
all to return and obtain help from the village.

"Will you not be afraid, sister, if we leave you alone?" they asked.

"Of what shall I be afraid?" Takane replied. "It is yet light, and the
home is near. Haste, for I am hungry, and the night is coming."

The girls then left her and ran home. No sooner had they disappeared,
than Takane heard a noise amongst the reeds behind her, and, looking
round, she saw Masilo standing there.

"Oh, ho! Takane! you are mine at last! Guessed you not that this was my
grave, and that it was I who held you firmly to the ground, so that not
even all your companions could raise you? Come now, for we must hasten,
lest we be caught by your father's people. By the spirits of my fathers,
I have sworn that you shall be my wife."

"But you yourself are a spirit. How, then, can you marry me, and what
need have you of a wife? Are you going to kill me even as you were
killed?"

"True, I _was_ a spirit, but I am now a man, and you are my wife. Come,
for I tarry no longer." So saying, he seized her hand and began to run
with her away from their old home, while she, filled with superstitious
dread, offered only slight resistance. On they ran, ever onward, all
through the night and far into the new day. At length, utterly weary,
Takane lay down, and refused to go any farther. All around them were
strange mountains and valleys, but no sign of human habitation. Here,
then, Masilo resolved to remain, and here he built his hut, with the aid
of Takane, who, now that she was powerless to escape, became a happy and
devoted wife, obeying Masilo as even a wife should. Soon other wanderers
came to dwell near them, and ere many years passed Masilo was chief of a
happy, prosperous little village, and Takane the mother of sons and
daughters whose beauty made her heart glad.



CHAPTER XI.

HOW KHOSI CHOSE A WIFE.


In the days of our fathers' fathers there lived a rich chief who had
only one wife, whom he loved so much that he would not take even one of
the beautiful daughters of the great chief to wife, not even when, after
many years, no child was born to them. "I will wait," said the old
chief, "the spirits will relent before I die, for we will offer many
sacrifices to them." Accordingly the best of the flocks and herds were
sacrificed, and the woman found favour in the eyes of the gods, and a
daughter, beautiful as the morning, was born. So precious was this child
in the eyes of her parents that they hid her from the sight of men,
wrapping her in the skin of the crocodile, the sacred beast of the
people. Because of this the people called her "Polomahache" (the
crocodile scale), and very few believed in her beauty, for they thought
she must be deformed or terribly ugly to be hidden away under a covering
always; but the maiden grew in beauty and grace, until her parents felt
they must strive to find a youth worthy of her, if one was to be had
upon the earth.

Now the great chief had a son who was dearer to him than all his wives
or his other children, or even his flocks and herds; a son tall and
straight as the spear, fleet of foot as the wild deer, and brave as the
mighty lion of the mountains. This youth the people called Khosi, the
fleet one.

At the time when Polomahache had become old enough to marry, Khosi had
begun to think of taking a wife, and had sent round to the neighbouring
villages requesting the people to send the prettiest girls for his
inspection, naming a certain day upon which he would receive them. Upon
the day named, very early in the morning, Polomahache, enveloped in her
crocodile skin and accompanied by two female attendants, set out for
Khosi's village. Many other damsels passed them with jest and laughter,
bidding Polomahache remain at home, as her looks were enough to frighten
even the bravest lover. Now the custom was that each damsel should wash
in the pool below the village of the expectant bridegroom-elect;
accordingly the pool below Khosi's village was soon thronged with merry,
laughing girls, who were quite unconscious of the fact that Khosi was
hidden in the branches of a tree close by, from whence he could, unseen,
inspect his would-be wives. While the other girls bathed, Polomahache
remained quietly in the background, but when they had departed she
stepped timidly down to the water's edge, where she stood hesitatingly,
as if afraid to throw off her hideous covering. Khosi, upon seeing her,
hid himself more securely in the tree, exclaiming, "Ah! what wild beast
have we here? Surely she does not hope that I shall choose her?"

"My child," said one of the attendants, "why do you stand in fear? Know
you not that it is the custom of our tribe for the damsels to wash ere
they approach their master's house. Remove your covering, then, and be
not afraid, for we are alone."

Reluctantly Polomahache did so, and stepped into the clear, cold water,
revealing herself in all her beauty to the enraptured gaze of the
spectator in the tree.

"Ha," exclaimed Khosi, "what beauty, what eyes, what a face! She, and
she alone, shall be my bride." And he continued to gaze upon her until,
her bathing completed, she once more enveloped herself in the crocodile
skin and departed to the village, when Khosi descended from his
hiding-place and returned by another path to his home.

When all the maidens were assembled, Khosi, accompanied by his father
and mother, came out from the hut and walked slowly along, carefully
studying each maid as he passed. Many bright glances were shot at him;
many maiden hearts fluttered in hopeful expectation; but one by one he
passed them all until he came to little Polomahache, who had hidden
herself away at the end of the row of maidens.

"Ho! hèla! what is this?" exclaimed Khosi. "Surely this is no maiden,
but some wild beast."

"Indeed, Chief Khosi," replied a gentle voice from behind the skin, "I
am but a poor maid who fears she cannot hope to find favour in the eyes
of the Great One."

"Now truly, mother, this is the wife for me. Send all the other maidens
away, for I will have none of them." So saying, Khosi turned and
re-entered the hut. His mother trembled with rage, for she thought
Polomahache had bewitched her son, so she followed him into the hut; but
when she heard what he had to tell her, she promised to try to arrange
the marriage on condition that Khosi would manage to let her see
Polomahache without the skin. Accordingly they arranged that Khosi was
to see his bride alone, and if he could persuade her to throw off the
crocodile skin he was to clap three times as if in pleasure, and his
mother would come in.

When the sun was low in the heavens Khosi conducted Polomahache to his
father's hut, where at length he persuaded her to throw off the skin. As
it fell to the ground he clapped three times, exclaiming, "Oh! beautiful
as the dawn is my beloved; her eyes are tender as the eyes of a deer;
her voice is like many waters." As he spoke his mother entered, and
being quite satisfied with the maiden's beauty, the marriage was soon
arranged, and Khosi and his beautiful bride dwelt long in happiness and
prosperity in the land of their fathers.



CHAPTER XII.

THE VILLAGE MAIDEN AND THE CANNIBAL.


The village was starving, there was no running away from the fact; the
men's eyes were big and hungry-looking, and even the plumpest girl was
thin. What was to be done? The maidens must go out to find roots.
Perhaps the spirits would take pity on their starved looks and guide
them to where the roots grew; so early in the morning all the maidens,
led by the chiefs two daughters, left the village to seek for food; they
walked two by two, a maid and a little girl, side by side. Long they
journeyed, and weary were their feet, yet they found nothing, and
darkness was creeping over the land. So they laid themselves down to
rest under the Great Above, with no shelter or covering over them, to
wait for the coming dawn. Next day as they journeyed, behold one of the
children espied a root, another, and yet another, until all were busy
digging up the precious food. Now a strange thing happened, for, while
the maidens only found long thin roots, the children gathered only thick
large ones. At length enough had been found to last the village for a
time, so the girls set off to return home. As they came near the river
they saw it was terribly flooded, and an old, old woman sat crooning
upon the bank.

As they approached they began to distinguish the words she was
chanting:--


     "The Water Spirit loves not the thin roots,
     They are the food of swine--
     There is no safety for them.
     But the large root, how good it is--
     It is the food of spirits, even of the
     Great Water Spirit.
     Safety and strength are in it;
     The water flows on, flows on."


"Mother," said the elder of the chief's daughters, approaching the old
woman, "tell us of your wisdom how we shall cross this swollen river,
for we are in haste to reach our home."

Without lifting her eyes from the water, the dame replied, "To the
swollen river a swollen root; in each maid's right hand a root that is
large, then cross and fear not."

Accordingly the girls chose their largest root, which they threw upon
the water, and then each child of her store of fat roots chose two; one
she gave to one of the elder maidens, the other she held in her own
right hand, then two by two they stepped into the river and in safety
gained the opposite bank. But when it came to the turn of the chiefs two
daughters, the child refused to give her sister one of her large roots,
nor were threats or entreaties of any avail. The night was fast
approaching, their companions were almost out of sight, and the river
rolled at their feet, dark, swift, and deep.

At length the child relented, and soon the two girls were speeding after
their friends; but it was too dark to see, and they missed their road
and wandered far in the darkness. When midnight was fast approaching
they saw a light shining near, and upon going up to it, found themselves
at the door of a hut, over which a mat hung. "Let us ask for shelter for
the night," said the elder girl, and shook the mat.

"Get up! get up! son of mine, and see if people are at the door; for I
am hungry and would eat meat." The voice was that of a man, who was
seated in front of some red-hot cinders in the middle of the hut.

The little boy ran to the door, and, upon seeing the two girls standing
there, implored them to run away at once, as his father was a cannibal
and would eat them up; but before they had time to do so, the old man
appeared and dragged them into the hut.

Early the next morning the old cannibal left the hut to call two of his
friends to share his feast. Before he left he securely fastened the two
girls together, and told his son to watch them carefully.

Now, as soon as he was out of sight, there appeared at the door the old
woman who yesterday had been sitting on the river bank. She at once set
the girls free, but told them she must cut off all their hair. When this
was done, she took a little and buried it under the floor of the hut,
another bunch she buried under the refuse heap outside, another near the
spring, and yet another half way up the hill. She then returned to the
hut and burnt the remaining hair.

"Now, my children," said she, "you must fly to your home. I shall follow
you under the ground, but your guide shall be a bee. Follow where it
leads, and you will be safe." So saying, she led them to the door and
drew down the mat.

"Run!" said the boy; "make haste! There is the bee grandmother told you
of. Follow quickly, lest my father find you and kill you."

Seeing a bee hovering near, the girls followed where it led. Presently
they met two men, who stopped them, and asked, "Who are you? Are you not
the two girls our friend has told us of? Did you not stay last night in
a hut with an old man and a boy?"

"We know not of whom you speak," replied the girls. "We have seen no old
man, nor little boy."

"Ho, ho! is that true? But yes, we see it is true. He told us his
victims had plenty of hair, but you have none. No, no; these are not
they; these are only people." So saying, they allowed the girls to
continue their journey.

Now when the old man and his friends found the girls had escaped, they
were very angry; but the little boy said he did not think they could be
very far away. The old man went out and began calling, but, as he
called, there answered him a voice from the hair under the hut, another
voice from the hair by the spring, another from the mountain, and so on
from each spot where the old woman had buried the hair, until he became
mad with rage and disappointment; then, guessing that witchcraft had
been used, and that the two girls his friends had spoken to were indeed
his intended victims, he set off in pursuit; but when he caught sight of
them, they were almost at their father's village, and a large swarm of
bees was between him and them, which, when he tried to overtake the
girls, stung him so terribly that he howled with agony, and dared not
approach any nearer. Thus the girls escaped, and returned to bring the
light of day to their parents' eyes.



CHAPTER XIII.

MORONGOE THE SNAKE.


Mokete was a chief's daughter, but she was also beautiful beyond all the
daughters of her father's house, and Morongoe the brave and Tau the lion
both desired to possess her, but Tau found not favour in the eyes of her
parents, neither desired she to be his wife, whereas Morongoe was rich
and the son of a great chief, and upon him was Mokete bestowed in
marriage.

But Tau swore by all the evil spirits that their happiness should not
long continue, and he called to his aid the old witch doctor, whose
power was greater than the tongue of man could tell; and one day
Morongoe walked down to the water and was seen no more. Mokete wept and
mourned for her brave young husband, to whom she had been wedded but ten
short moons, but Tau rejoiced greatly.

When two more moons had waned, a son was born to Mokete, to whom she
gave the name of Tsietse (sadness). The child grew and throve, and the
years passed by, but brought no news of Morongoe.

One day, when Tsietse was nearly seven years old, he cried unto his
mother, saying, "Mother, how is it that I have never seen my father? My
companions see and know their fathers, and love them, but I alone know
not the face of my father, I alone have not a father's protecting love."

"My son," replied his mother, "a father you have never known, for the
evil spirits carried him from amongst us before ever you were born." She
then related to him all that had happened.

From that day Tsietse played no more with the other boys, but wandered
about from one pool of water to another, asking the frogs to tell him of
his father.

Now the custom of the Basuto, when any one falls into the water and is
not found, is to drive cattle into the place where the person is
supposed to have fallen, as they will bring him out. Many cattle had
been driven into the different pools of water near Morongoe's village,
but as they had failed to bring his father, Tsietse knew it was not much
use looking near home. Accordingly, one day he went to a large pond a
long distance off, and there he asked the frogs to help him in his
search. One old frog hopped close to the child, and said, "You will find
your father, my son, when you have walked to the edge of the world and
taken a leap into the waters beneath; but he is no longer as you are,
nor does he know of your existence."

This, at last, was the information Tsietse had longed for, now he could
begin his search in real earnest. For many days he walked on, and ever
on. At length, one day, just as the sun was setting, he saw before him a
large sea of water of many beautiful colours. Stepping into it, he began
to ask the same question; but at every word he uttered, the sea rose up,
until at length it covered his head, and he began falling, falling
through the deep sea. Suddenly he found himself upon dry ground, and
upon looking round he saw flocks and herds, flowers and fruit, on every
side. At first he was too much astonished to speak, but after a little
while he went up to one of the herd boys and asked him if he had ever
seen his (Tsietse's) father. The herd boy told him many strangers
visited that place, and he had better see the chief, who would be able
to answer his question.

When Tsietse had told his story to the chief, the old man knew at once
that the great snake which dwelt in their midst must be the child's
father; so, bidding the boy remain and rest, he went off to consult with
the snake as to how they should tell Tsietse the truth without
frightening him; but as they talked, Tsietse ran up to them, and, seeing
the snake, at once embraced it, for he knew it was his father.

Then there was great joy in the heart of Morongoe, for he knew that by
his son's aid he should be able to overcome his enemy, and return at
length to his wife and home. So he told Tsietse how Tau had persuaded
the old witch doctor to turn him into a snake, and banish him to this
world below the earth. Soon afterwards Tsietse returned to his home, but
he was no longer a child, but a noble youth, with a brave, straight look
that made the wicked afraid. Very gently he told his mother all that had
happened to him, and how eager his father was to return to his home.
Mokete consulted an old doctor who lived in the mountain alone, and who
told her she must get Tsietse to bring his father to the village in the
brightness of the day-time, but that he must be so surrounded by his
followers from the land beyond that none of his own people would be able
to see him.

Quickly the news spread through the village that Morongoe had been found
by his son and was returning to his people.

At length Tsietse was seen approaching with a great crowd of followers,
while behind them came all the cattle which had been driven into the
pools to seek Morongoe. As they approached Mokete's house the door
opened and the old doctor stood upon the threshold.

Making a sign to command silence, he said:--"My children, many years ago
your chief received a grievous wrong at the hand of his enemy, and was
turned into a snake, but by the love and faithfulness of his son he is
restored to you this day, and the wiles of his enemy are made of no
account. Cover, then, your eyes, my children, lest the Evil Eye afflict
you."

He then bade the snake, which was in the centre of the crowd, enter the
hut, upon which he shut the door, and set fire to the hut. The people,
when they saw the flames, cried out in horror, but the old doctor bade
them be still, for that no harm would come to their chief, but rather a
great good. When everything was completely burnt, the doctor took from
the middle of the ruins a large burnt ball; this he threw into the pool
near by, and lo! from the water up rose Morongoe, clad in a kaross, the
beauty of which was beyond all words, and carrying in his hand a stick
of shining black, like none seen on this earth before, in beauty, or
colour, or shape. Thus was the spell broken through the devotion of a
true son, and peace and happiness restored, not only to Mokete's heart,
but to the whole village.



CHAPTER XIV.

MORENA-Y-A-LETSATSI, OR THE SUN CHIEF.


In the time of the great famine, when our fathers' fathers were young,
there lived across the mountains, many days' journey, a great chief, who
bore upon his breast the signs of the sun, the moon, and eleven stars.
Greatly was he beloved, and marvellous was his power. When all around
were starving, his people had plenty, and many journeyed to his village
to implore his protection. Amongst others came two young girls, the
daughters of one mother. Tall and lovely as a deep still river was the
elder, gentle and timid as the wild deer, and her they called Siloane
(the tear-drop.)

Of a different mould was her sister Mokete. Plump and round were her
limbs, bright as the stars her eyes, like running water was the music of
her voice, and she feared not man nor spirit. When the chief asked what
they could do to repay him for helping them in their need, Mokete
replied, "Lord, I can cook, I can grind corn, I can make 'leting,' I can
do all a woman's work."

Gravely the chief turned to Siloane--"And you," he asked, "what can you
do?"

"Alas, lord!" Siloane replied, "what can I say, seeing that my sister
has taken all words out of my mouth."

"It is enough," said the chief, "you shall be my wife. As for Mokete,
since she is so clever, let her be your servant."

Now the heart of Mokete burned with black hate against her sister, and
she vowed to humble her to the dust; but no one must see into her heart,
so with a smiling face she embraced Siloane.

The next day the marriage feast took place, amidst great rejoicing, and
continued for many days, as befitted the great Sun Chief. Many braves
came from far to dance at the feast, and to delight the people with
tales of the great deeds they had done in battle. Beautiful maidens were
there, but none so beautiful as Siloane. How happy she was, how beloved!
In the gladness of her heart she sang a song of praise to her
lord--"Great is the sun in the heavens, and great are the moon and
stars, but greater and more beautiful in the eyes of his handmaiden is
my lord. Upon his breast are the signs of his greatness, and by their
power I swear to love him with a love so strong, so true, that his son
shall be in his image, and shall bear upon his breast the same tokens of
the favour of the heavens."

Many moons came and went, and all was peace and joy in the hearts of the
Sun Chief and his bride; but Mokete smiled darkly in her heart, for the
time of her revenge approached. At length came the day, when Siloane
should fulfil her vow, when the son should be born. The chief ordered
that the child should be brought to him at once, that he might rejoice
in the fulfilment of Siloane's vow. In the dark hut the young mother lay
with great content, for had not Mokete assured her the child was his
father's image, and upon his breast were the signs of the sun, the moon,
and eleven stars?

Why then this angry frown on the chiefs face, this look of triumph in
the eyes of Mokete? What is this which she is holding covered with a
skin? She turns back the covering, and, with a wicked laugh of triumph,
shows the chief, not the beautiful son he had looked for, but an ugly,
deformed child with the face of a baboon. "Here, my lord," she said, "is
the long-desired son. See how well Siloane loves you, see how well she
has kept her vow! Shall I tell her of your heart's content?"

"Woman," roared the disappointed chief, "speak not thus to me. Take from
my sight both mother and child, and tell my headman it is my will that
they be destroyed ere the sun hide his head in yonder mountains."

Sore at heart, angry and unhappy, the chief strode away into the lands,
while Mokete hastened to the headman to bid him carry out his master's
orders; but ere they could be obeyed, a messenger came from the chief to
say the child alone was to be destroyed, but Siloane should become a
servant, and on the morrow should witness his marriage to Mokete.

Bitter tears rolled down Siloane's cheeks. What evil thing had befallen
her, that the babe she had borne, and whom she had felt in her arms,
strong and straight, should have been so changed ere the eyes of his
father had rested upon him? Not once did she doubt Mokete. Was she not
her own sister? What reason would she have for casting the "Evil Eye"
upon the child? It was hard to lose her child, hard indeed to lose the
love of her lord; but he had not banished her altogether from his sight,
and perhaps some day the spirits might be willing that she should once
again find favour in his sight, and should bear him a child in his own
image.

Meanwhile Mokete had taken the real baby to the pigs, hoping they would
devour him, for each time she tried to kill him some unseen power held
her hand; but the pigs took the babe and nourished him, and many weeks
went by--weeks of triumph for Mokete, but of bitter sorrow for Siloane.

At length Mokete bethought her of the child, and wondered if the pigs
had left any trace of him. When she reached the kraal, she started back
in terror, for there, fat, healthy, and happy, lay the babe, while the
young pigs played around him. What should she do? Had Siloane seen him?
No, she hardly thought so, for the child was in every way the image of
the chief. Siloane would at once have known who he was.

Hurriedly returning to her husband, Mokete begged him to get rid of all
the pigs, and have their kraal burnt, as they were all ill of a terrible
disease. So the chief gave orders to do as Mokete desired; but the
spirits took the child to the elephant which lived in the great bush,
and told it to guard him.

After this Mokete was at peace for many months, but no child came to
gladden the heart of her lord, and to take away her reproach. In her
anger and bitterness she longed to kill Siloane, but she was afraid.

One day she wandered far into the bush, and there she beheld the child,
grown more beautiful than ever, playing with the elephant. Mad with
rage, she returned home, and gave her lord no rest until he consented to
burn the bush, which she told him was full of terrible wild beasts,
which would one day devour the whole village if they were not destroyed.
But the spirits took the child and gave him to the fishes in the great
river, bidding them guard him safely.

Many moons passed, many crops were reaped and Mokete had almost
forgotten about the child, when one day, as she walked by the river
bank, she saw him, a beautiful youth, playing with the fishes. This was
terrible. Would nothing kill him? In her rage she tore great rocks from
their beds and rolled them into the water; but the spirits carried the
youth to a mountain, where they gave him a wand. "This wand," said they,
"will keep you safe. If danger threatens you from above, strike once
with the wand upon the ground, and a path will be opened to you to the
country beneath. If you wish to return to this upper world, strike twice
with the wand, and the path will reopen."

So again they left him, and the youth, fearing the vengeance of his
stepmother, struck once upon the ground with his wand. The earth opened,
showing a long narrow passage. Down this the youth went, and, upon
reaching the other end, found himself at the entrance to a large and
very beautiful village. As he walked along, the people stood to gaze at
him, and all, when they saw the signs upon his breast, fell down and
worshipped him, saying, "Greetings, lord!" At length, he was informed
that for many years these people had had no chief, but the spirits had
told them that at the proper time a chief would appear who should bear
strange signs upon his breast; him the people were to receive and to
obey, for he would be the chosen one, and his name should be Tsepitso,
or the promise.

From that day the youth bore the name of Tsepitso, and ruled over that
land; but he never forgot his mother, and often wandered to the world
above, to find how she fared and to watch over her. On these journeys he
always clothed himself in old skins, and covered up his breast that none
might behold the signs. One day, as he wandered, he found himself in a
strange village, and as he passed the well, a maiden greeted him,
saying, "Stranger, you look weary. Will you not rest and drink of this
fountain?"

Tsepitso gazed into her eyes, and knew what love meant. Here, he felt,
was the wife the spirits intended him to wed. He must not let her
depart, so he sat down by the well and drank of the cool, delicious
water, while he questioned the maid. She told him her name was Ma Thabo
(mother of joy), and that her father was chief of that part of the
country. Tsepitso told her he was a poor youth looking for work,
whereupon she took him to her father, who consented to employ him.

One stipulation Tsepitso made, which was that for one hour every day
before sunset he should be free from his duties. This was agreed to, and
for several moons he worked for the old chief, and grew more and more
in favour, both with him and with his daughter. The hour before sunset
each day he spent amongst his own people, attending to their wants and
giving judgment. At length he told Ma Thabo of his love, and read her
answering love in her beautiful eyes. Together they sought the old
chief, to whom Tsepitso told his story, and revealed his true self. The
marriage was soon after celebrated, with much rejoicing, and Tsepitso
bore his bride in triumph to his beautiful home in the world beneath,
where she was received with every joy.

But amidst all his happiness Tsepitso did not forget his mother, and
after the feasting and rejoicing were ended, he took Ma Thabo with him,
for the time had at length come when he might free his mother for ever
from the power of Mokete.

When they approached his father's house, Mokete saw them, and,
recognising Tsepitso, knew that her time had come. With a scream she
fled to the hut, but Tsepitso followed her, and sternly demanded his
mother. Mokete only moaned as she knelt at her lord's feet. The old
chief arose, and said, "Young man, I know not who you are, nor who your
mother is; but this woman is my wife, and I pray you speak to her not
thus rudely."

Tsepitso replied, "Lord, I am thy son."

"Nay now, thou art a liar," said the old man sadly, "I have no son."

"Indeed, my father, I am thy son, and Siloane is my mother. Dost need
proof of the truth of my words? Then look," and turning to the light,
Tsepitso revealed to his father the signs upon his breast, and the old
chief, with a great cry, threw himself upon his son's neck and wept.
Siloane was soon called, and knew that indeed she had fulfilled her vow,
that here before her stood in very truth the son she had borne, and a
great content filled her heart. Tsepitso and Ma Thabo soon persuaded her
to return with them, knowing full well that her life would no longer be
safe were she to remain near Mokete; so, when the old chief was absent,
in the dusk of the evening they departed to their own home.

When the Sun Chief discovered their flight, he determined to follow, and
restore his beloved Siloane to her rightful place; but Mokete followed
him, though many times he ordered her to return to the village, for that
never again would she be wife of his, and that if she continued to
follow him, he would kill her. At length he thought, "If I cut off her
feet she will not be able to walk," so, turning round suddenly, he
seized Mokete, and cut off her feet. "Now, wilt thou leave me in peace,
woman? Take care nothing worse befall thee." So saying, he left her,
and continued his journey.

But Mokete continued to follow him, till the sun was high in the
heavens. Each time he saw her close behind him, he stopped and cut off
more of her legs, till only her body was left; even then she was not
conquered, but continued to roll after him. Thoroughly enraged, the Sun
Chief seized her, and called down fire from the heavens to consume her,
and a wind from the edge of the world to scatter her ashes.

When this was done, he went on his way rejoicing, for surely now she
would trouble him no more. Then as he journeyed, a voice rose in the
evening air, "I follow, I follow, to the edge of the world, yea, even
beyond, shall I follow thee."

Placing his hands over his ears to shut out the voice, the Sun Chief ran
with the fleetness of a young brave, until, at the hour when the spirits
visit the abodes of men, he overtook Tsepitso and the two women, and
with them entered the kingdom of his son.

How he won pardon from Siloane, and gained his son's love, and how it
was arranged that he and Siloane should again be married, are old tales
now in the country of Tsepitso. When the marriage feast was begun, a
cloud of ashes dashed against the Sun Chief, and an angry voice was
heard from the midst of the cloud, saying, "Nay, thou shalt not wed
Siloane, for I have found thee, and I shall claim thee for ever."
Hastily the witch doctor was called to free the Sun Chief from the power
of Mokete. As the old man approached the cloud, chanting a hymn to the
gods, every one gazed in silence. Raising his wand, the wizard made some
mystic signs, the cloud vanished, and only a handful of ashes lay upon
the ground.

Thus was the Evil Eye of Mokete stilled for evermore, and peace reigned
in the hearts of the Sun Chief and his wife Siloane.



CHAPTER XV.

HOW RA-MOLO BECAME A SNAKE.


Long, long ago, before the time of the great chief Mosheshue, there
lived, behind the mountains, a wicked chief called Ra-Molo (the father
of fire), who ruled his people with the hand of hardness. His village
lay at the foot of a high hill, and down below flowed the Sinkou, deep
and dark and cold. Every year, when the harvest feasts began, would
Ra-Molo cause to die the black death all those upon whom his displeasure
had fallen during the past year; and when the moon was big in the
heavens, he would come out from his dwelling to gaze upon his victims,
and to listen to their screams of agony. Many, many times have the cries
of the poor unfortunates echoed from rock to rock, while the people hid
their heads in their blankets and trembled with fear and horror.

When the last feeble moans died away, the chief would return to his
dwelling, and a great silence would descend upon the village. Then
softly, by ones and by twos, the frightened people would creep away to
some quiet spot out of sight of the village, and there offer up their
prayers to the spirits of their fathers to rescue them from Ra-Molo;
but for many many moons no help came.

Despair seized upon their hearts and hung in darkness over their homes.
What hope was there for them when even the spirits were silent?

Now Ra-Molo had a brother who bore the name of Tau (the lion). This
brother Ra-Molo hated with a great and bitter hatred, and gladly would
he have put him to death, but he feared the vengeance of the spirits,
for Tau was as brave and good as Ra-Molo was wicked and cruel. Then also
he knew that all the people loved Tau, and would flee from the one who
murdered him, as from the Evil Eye itself.

At length the evil counsels of the 'Ngaka (witch doctor) and the desire
of Ra-Molo's heart overcame all fears, and one night, when the silence
of sleep had come down upon the village, Ra-Molo called his 'Ngaka to
bring his followers, and to enter the dwelling of Tau and put him to
death.

The 'Ngaka needed no urging to begin his vile work. His heart glowed
with delight as he thought of what a big strong man Tau was, and how
long it would take him to die. Soon the whole village was aroused by the
shrieks which the torturers extracted from the helpless victim. "Help,
oh, help me, my brothers!" cried Tau, "lest I die, and my blood stain
the hands of my father's son." They strove to rescue him, but the hut
was well guarded, and their chief stood in the doorway, and forbade them
to enter, using many threats to frighten them.

When the grey shadow in mercy came down to end his sufferings, Tau
raised his eyes to the stars, and cried, "Oh, spirits of my fathers,
receive me, and bring down upon Ra-Molo the heavy hand of vengeance,
that his power may be destroyed, and no more innocent blood be spilled
upon the earth to cry to the spirits. Oh, let my cry be heard, because
of my great suffering!" So saying, he passed to the land of shadows, and
a great darkness descended upon the village. All the people crept
together and waited in tears for the dawn. At length the sun came forth,
the darkness was lifted up; but what awful horror now held the people?
What was that towards which all eyes were turned? Behold! at the door of
the chief's dwelling lay a gigantic snake, so great that his like had
never before been seen. Slowly he uncoiled himself and raised his head,
when a wild cry went up from all the people. The body was the body of a
snake, but the head was the head of a sheep, with a snake's tongue,
which darted in and out from its wide open mouth, while from the eyes
the lightning flew. With a long loud hiss-s-s the thing began to crawl
towards the river bank, then, raising its head to cast one long backward
glance upon the village, it plunged into the waters of the Sinkou,
there to remain a prisoner for all time. The spirits had, indeed, heard
the dying cry of Tau, and had turned Ra-Molo into the awful thing the
people had just beheld.

Once in each year, as the day comes round, does Ra-Molo rise to the
surface of the giant pool, where he lies hid, and woe, woe to the one
who sees the silver flash of his great body as he rises, for surely will
that poor one be drawn by the power of those evil eyes down, down to the
water's edge. Then will the serpent seize him and carry him away from
the sight of men to the bottom of the pool, there to sleep cold and
still till all men shall be gathered to the land of the spirits of their
fathers on the day when the Great Spirit shall call from the stars.



CHAPTER XVI.

LELIMO AND THE MAGIC CAP.


Once long ago, when giants dwelt upon the earth, there lived in a little
village, far up in the mountains, a woman who had the power of making
magic caps. When her daughter Siloane grew old enough to please the eyes
of men, her mother made her a magic cap. "Keep this cap safely, my
child, for it will protect you from the power of Lelimo (the giant). If
you lose it, he will surely seize you and carry you away to his dwelling
in the mountains, where he and his children will eat you."

Siloane promised to be very careful, and for a long time always carried
the magic cap with her whenever she went beyond the village.

Now it was the custom each year for the maidens of the village to go to
a certain spot, where the "tuani" or long rushes grew, there to gather
great bundles with which to make new mats for the floors of the houses.
When the time came, Siloane and many more maidens set out for the place.
The distance was great, and as they must reach their destination at the
rising of the sun, they set off from the village at midnight.

Just as the sun rose from sleep, the maidens arrived at the graves on
which the rushes grew. Soon all were busy cutting rushes and making
mats. Siloane laid down her cap on one of the graves by which she was
working. All day the maidens worked, and at sunset they started on their
homeward journey. Soon the moon arose and lighted the land, and the
light-hearted maidens went gaily singing on their way.

When they had gone some way, Siloane suddenly remembered she had left
the magic cap on the grave where she had been sitting. Afraid to face
her mother without it, she asked her companions to wait for her while
she hurried back to fetch it.

Long the maidens waited, amusing themselves by telling stories and
singing songs in the moonlight, but Siloane returned not. At length two
girls set out to look for her, but when they reached the spot, no trace
of her was to be found. Great was their dismay. How could they tell the
news to her parents? Still there was nothing else to be done, and, with
heavy hearts, they all returned to the village.

When Ma-Batu, the mother of Siloane, heard their story, she immediately
set to work to make another magic cap, which she gave to her younger
daughter Sieng, telling her to have it always by her, in case Siloane
should need her help.

Meanwhile, Siloane had been taken captive by the giant as she was
making her way back to recover her magic cap. When she felt Lelimo's
heavy hand on her shoulder, she struggled frantically to get away, but
her strength was as water against such a man, and he soon had her
securely tied up in his big bag, made out of the skin of an ox.

Now when Lelimo saw Siloane, he was returning from a feast, and was very
drunk, so that he mistook his way, and wandered long and far, until, in
the morning, he came to a large hut, where he threw down the sack
containing Siloane, and demanded a drink of the woman who stood in the
door. She gave him some very strong "juala" (beer), which made him more
drunk than before. While he was drinking, Siloane called softly from the
sack, for she had recognised her mother's voice talking to the giant,
and knew that he had brought her in some wonderful way to her father's
house. Again she called, and this time her sister heard her, and
hastened to undo the sack. She then hid Siloane, and, by the aid of the
magic cap, she filled the sack with bees and wasps and closed it firmly.
When the giant came out from the hut, he picked up the sack and started
for his own home. On his arrival there he again threw down the sack, and
ordered his wife to kill and cook the captive girl he imagined he had
brought home. His wife began to feel the sack in order to find out how
big the girl was, but the bees became angry and stung her through the
sack, which frightened her, and she refused to open it. Thereupon Lelimo
called his son, but he also refused. In a great rage, the giant turned
them both out of the house, and closed all the openings. He then made a
great fire, and prepared to roast the girl.

When he opened the sack, the bees and wasps, who were by this time
thoroughly furious, swarmed upon him, and stung him till he howled with
agony, and, mad with pain, he broke down the door of the hut and rushed
down to the river, into which he flung himself head first. In this
position he was afterwards found by his wife, his feet resting on a rock
above the water, his head buried in the mud of the river.

Such was the end of this wicked giant, who had been the terror of that
part of the country for many, many years.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE CHIEF AND THE TIGERS.


There lived long ago a chief whose wife was beautiful as the morning
sun. Dear was she to the heart of her lord, and great was his sorrow
when she grew sick. Many doctors and wise women tried to cure her, but
in vain. Worse and worse she grew, till the people said she would surely
die, and the heart of the chief became as water within him.

One day, as the shadows grew long on the ground, an old, old man came
slowly to the village, and asked to see the chief. "Morena (Master)," he
said, "I have heard of your trouble, and have come to help you. Your
wife is ill of a great sickness, and she will die unless you can get a
tiger's heart with which to make medicine for her to drink. See, I have
here a wonderful stone which will help you, and some medicine for you to
drink. Now wrap yourself in a tiger-skin. The medicine will make you
wise to understand and to speak their tongue; so shall they look upon
you as a brother. When you have drunk the medicine, take the stone in
your hand, and set out on your journey. When you come to the home of the
tigers, you must live among them as one of themselves, until you can
find yourself alone with one. Him must you quickly kill, and tear from
his warm body his heart unbroken, and then, throwing away your tiger
skin, you must flee to your home. The tigers will chase you, but when
they come too near, you must throw down the stone in front of you and
jump upon it, when it will become a great rock, from whose sides fire
will dart forth, and burn any who try to climb it. Thus will you be
saved from the power of the tigers, and your wife be restored to
health."

Gratefully the chief did as the old man desired, and set off to seek the
home of the tigers. Many days he wandered across the plains and over the
mountains, into the unknown valleys beyond, and there he found those he
sought. They greeted him joyfully, welcoming him as a brother; only one,
a young tiger of great beauty, held back, and muttered, "This is no
tiger but a man. He will bring misfortune upon us. Slay him, my
brothers, ere it be too late;" but they heeded him not. Not many days
had passed, when all the tigers scattered themselves over the valley,
and the chief found himself alone with the angry young tiger. Watching
him patiently, he soon found the opportunity he sought, and, hastily
killing him, he tore the still warm heart from the lifeless body, and
throwing off his disguise, set off towards his home.

On, on he went, and still no sign of the tigers, but, as the sun sank
to rest, they appeared in the distance, and he knew they would soon
overtake him. When they were so close behind him that he heard the angry
snap of their teeth, he threw down the stone the old man had given him,
and sprang on to it. Instantly it became a great rock, even as the old
man had said. Up came the tigers, each striving to be the first to tear
the heart out of the chief, even as he had torn out their brother's
heart; but the first one that reached the rock, sprang back with a howl
of agony, and rolled over on his side--dead. The others all drew up in
alarm, and dared not approach the stone, but spent many hours in
wandering round and round the rock, and grinding their teeth at the
chief, who calmly watched them from his seat on the top of the rock.

Just before dawn the tigers, now thoroughly tired, lay down, and soon
were fast asleep. Carefully, silently, the chief crawled down from the
rock, which immediately became again a small stone. Taking the stone in
his hand, and holding close the precious heart, which was to restore his
wife to health, he fled like a deer towards his village, which he now
saw in the plain below. Should he reach it before the tigers caught him?
The perspiration streamed from his body, his ears rang with strange
noises, and his breath came in great gasps, but still he hurried on.
Presently he heard the tigers coming. There was no time even to look
behind. He _must_ reach the village before they overtook him. On, on,
stumbling blindly over every obstacle, he staggered. How far away it
still looked! Would his people _never_ see him? Yes, at last he is seen.
He can hear the shout of his men as they rush to help him, only a few
more steps now, and he is safe. Bravely he totters on, then stumbles and
falls helpless, exhausted, as his men arrive, and carry him in triumph
into the village, while the tigers, baffled and furious, retreat to
their home beyond the mountains.

With song and dance the people keep festival, for their chief has
returned in safety, and his beautiful wife, restored to perfect health,
sits smiling by his side, to receive the loving congratulations of old
and young; but the old man came not to join the throng, nor was he ever
seen in their land again. Quietly as he came, he had gone, leaving no
sign behind him.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE MAID AND HER SNAKE-LOVER.


When our fathers' fathers were children, there lived in the valley of
the rivers two chiefs, who governed their people wisely and with great
kindness. The name of the one was Mopeli, and of the other Khosi.

Now Mopeli had a son whom he loved as his own heart, a youth, tall and
brave, and fearless as the young lion. To him was given the name of
Tsiu. When Tsiu was able to stand alone, and to play on the mat in front
of his father's dwelling, a daughter was born unto the chief Khosi, to
whom was given the name of Tebogo. The years passed, and Tsiu and Tebogo
grew and thrived. Often the youth drove his father's cattle down towards
the lands where Tebogo and her father's maidens worked, and many happy
days were spent, while the love each bore the other grew and
strengthened, even as they themselves grew older.

When the time came for Tsiu to take a wife, he went to his father and
asked that Tebogo might be given him, for none other could he wed.
Gladly the parents consented, and preparations were made for the
wedding.

Now Tebogo had another lover, upon whom she looked with scorn, but who
had vowed that never, never should she be the bride of Tsiu; so he
consulted a witch doctor, who promised to aid him. Imagine then his joy
when, ere the wedding feast had begun, he heard that Tsiu had
disappeared. "Now," thought he, "Tebogo shall be mine;" but the maiden
turned from him in anger, nor would her parents listen to his suit.

Meanwhile desolation hung over the home of the chief Mopeli. "My son, my
son," cried the unhappy father; but no voice replied, no son came back
to rejoice his father's heart.

When the moon had once more grown great in the heavens, an old man came
to the village of Mopeli, and called the chief to him. Long they talked,
and greatly the people wondered. At length they arose, and, saluting
each other, parted at the door of the chief's dwelling. Mopeli then
departed for the village of Chief Khosi, where he remained all night.
The next day he returned to his own village, and bade his people prepare
a great feast.

In the village of the Chief Khosi, also, much wonder filled the people's
minds, for they, likewise, were commanded to make ready a marriage
feast, for the chief's daughter, the lovely Tebogo, was about to be
married, but none knew to whom.

Calling his daughter to him, Khosi said, "My child, your lover Tsiu has
been taken from you, so it is my wish that you should marry one who has
found favour in my eyes."

"Tell me, my father," replied Tebogo, "who is the man you have chosen
for me? Let me at least know his name."

"Nay, my child, that I cannot do," answered Khosi, and with this the
maiden was obliged to be content. Behold then her horror when she was
brought forth to meet her bridegroom, to find not a man, but a snake.
All the people cried "shame" upon the parents who could be so cruel as
to wed their daughter to a reptile.

With cries and tears Tebogo implored her parents to spare her; in vain
were her entreaties. She was told to take her reptile husband home to
the new hut which had been built for them, near the large pool where the
cattle drank. Tremblingly she obeyed, followed by her maidens, the snake
crawling by her side. When she entered the hut, she tried to shut out
the snake, but it darted half its body through the door, and so
terrified her that she ran to the other end of the hut.

The snake followed, and began lashing her with its tail, till she ran
out of the hut down to the clump of willows which grew by the side of
the pool. Here she found an old doctor sitting, and to him she told her
trouble. "My daughter," he said, "return to your hut. Do not let the
snake see you, but close the door very softly from the outside, and set
fire to the hut. When it is all burnt down, you will find the ashes of
the snake lying in a little heap in the centre of the hut. Bring them
here, and cast them into the water."

Tebogo did as the old doctor directed her, and while the hut was
burning, many people ran from both the villages to see what had
happened; but Tebogo called to them to keep away, as she was burning the
snake. When all was destroyed, she went up, took the ashes of the snake,
which she found in the middle of the ruins, and, putting them into a
pitcher, ran with them down to the pool and threw them in. No sooner had
she done so, than from the water arose, not a snake, but her lover Tsiu.
With a joyful cry, she flung herself into his arms, and a great shout
went up from all the people gathered there.

As the lightning darts across the heaven, so the news of Tsiu's return
spread from hut to hut, and great was the people's wonderment. The story
of how he had been turned into a snake, and banished to the pool, until
he could find a maiden whose parents would bestow her upon him in
marriage, and of how the good old doctor Into had revealed the secret
to Mopeli, was soon told. For many days there was feasting and
merry-making in the homes of Mopeli the chief and of Khosi, while in
the hearts of Tsiu and his bride Tebogo there dwelt a great content; but
the wicked lover fled to the mountains, where he cherished a bitter
hatred in his heart against Tebogo and her husband, and longed for the
time when he could be revenged.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE FAMINE.


In the years when the locusts visited the lands of the chief Makaota,
and devoured all the food, the people grew thin and ill from starvation,
and many of them died. When their food was all gone, they wandered in
the lands and up the mountains, searching for roots upon which to feed.
Now as they searched, Mamokete, the wife of the Chief Makoata, chanced
to wander near some bushes, when suddenly she heard the most exquisite
singing. She stopped to listen, but could see nothing. So she walked up
to the bushes and looked in, and there she saw the most beautiful bird
she had ever seen. "Oh! ho! little bird," she cried, "help me, for I and
my husband and children are starving. Our cattle are all dead, and we
know not where to find food."

"Take me," sang the bird, "and I will be your food. Keep me safely,
guard me well, and you shall never starve as long as I remain with you."

Thankfully the poor woman took the bird and hurried home with it. She
placed it in an earthen pitcher and went to call her husband. When they
returned, they opened the pitcher to look at the bird, when lo! milk
poured from the mouth of the pitcher, and the hungry people drank. How
their hearts rejoiced over the gift which had been given them!

One day Makaota and his wife were going out to the lands to work, but
before leaving they called their children, and bade them be good, and
guard the pitcher well. The children promised to obey, but soon began to
quarrel. Each wished to drink out of the pitcher first, and in their
greediness they upset and broke the pitcher, and the bird flew out of
the open door. Terrified at what they had done, the children ran after
it; but when they got outside, there was no sign of the beautiful bird.
It had completely vanished.

What grief now filled their hearts and the hearts of Makaota and
Mamokete his wife! Hunger seized once more upon them, and despair filled
their hearts. Day by day they sought the wonderful bird, but found her
not. At length, when the two children lay sick for want of food, and the
parents' hearts were heavy with grief, there came again the wonderful
singing, borne upon the evening wind. Nearer and nearer it came, and
then, lo! at the open door stood the lovely bird.

"I have come back," she said, "because the punishment has been enough.
Take me, and your house shall prosper."

Gladly they took the beautiful bird in their hands, and vowed never
again to let anger and greed drive her away from them; and so their
house did thrive, even as the bird had said, and peace and plenty dwelt
not only in the house of Makaota, but in the whole village for ever
after.


ROBERT STOCKWELL,
Printer,
BADEN PLACE, CROSBY ROW, BOROUGH,
LONDON, S.E.





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